Thursday, 11 October 2007

A coming national catastrophe - hidden away in the Letters pages

"We must seriously consider vaccination - soon..." writes a farmer, Sarah Birchall, from inside what she calls "Bluetongue Island". This is in the Telegraph - but the crisis she describes, which is no less than the possible end of farming in the UK, is still confined to the letters pages
".....Does anybody care or even begin to understand the predicament the industry is now in? Customers for these animals lie to the west of the zone, as does the winter grazing.
Normal trade has ceased. Ten livestock markets are unable to trade, and risk extinction. Countless jobs and livelihoods will be lost.
Do those who spend their whole lives working the land count for so very little? Is most of our food destined to come from abroad?
....The aid announced following the foot and mouth crisis has done nothing to help those in the bluetongue zone. Bluetongue is much worse, and will probably never completely go away. We must seriously consider vaccination - soon..."
Many people are so cut off from the realities of food production as they wander up and down the aisles of their supermarket tossing plastic wrapped packets into their trolleys that they never give farming a thought. Soon it will be too late. Before the general public are given to understand the dire position into which we are sliding, farmers will have given up in despair and this will lead to a change the consequences of which can hardly be imagined.

"....more than 30 animals have been put down."

Animals put down because of Bluetongue? See / The lack of information from DEFRA is disgraceful - see latest Declaration (pdf). All we are getting from the egregious Mr Landeg is an inappropriate tone of command. "I continue to urge all farmers to remain vigilant, check their animals twice daily and report any sign of disease immediately." The impertinence of this is truly staggering. Farmers are to report immediately - but DEFRA's communication with them is virtually non existent.
What species are infected? What is the mortality rate? Where are the confirmed cases? Why should animals be being put down when culling serves no purpose? Why does the DEFRA map not show confirmed cases? Why is DEFRA information so at odds with others we have seen such as that on the Swiss veterinary website (see below)? Why has the lack of proper testing and surveillance led to such ignorance of the true picture? There may be perfectly adequate and reasonable answers to these questions - but without those answers one is left with a question that towers over all the rest: Why is this distressing situation being exacerbated by an incompetent, secretive Ministry that seems to be doing as much harm as good?

"Mystery of the Missing Millions"
Reported in the Herald, is a Scots farmer watching not only his own livelihood slip away but the future too.
".... if the politicians don't act there won't be hill farms here any more. If that happens, I simply don't know what I would do, nor does my son."
London support? The wooden hearts and heads at Westminster are embarrassed to find that a particularly cynical decision has come to light. The draft copy of Hilary Benn's Ministerial Statement (the one with which Mr Benn seemed strangely unfamiliar - see here) said "...Scotland should receive £8.1million and Wales £6.5m to assist them in countering the impacts of foot and mouth on their livestock farmers...." But once a decision had been reached not to call an election, this changed to
    "I am announcing today a package of assistance for the English livestock sector, amounting to £12.5m. The devolved administrations are proposing to introduce their own schemes."
Those eight millions have evaporated. Scotland's SNP "Alas, poor country! Almost afraid to know itself" - (here) is demanding an explanation. Wales in is the same miserable boat.

No comments: