Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Welsh farmers view!

A letter from a Welsh farmer that sums up the general feeling amongst smaller farmers and smallholders, with regard to the idiocy of the Defra policy on Bluetounge.
(Thanks to

Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 AM
Subject: Re: Concerns about Bluetongue
Dear ----

Thank you for your reply.

DEFRA seem to have accepted that there is an acceptable risk of exposure to Bluetongue for sheep in Wales, given the fact that vaccine will not be available until April/May, when the risk of Bluetongue begins in the middle of March.

Kirsty Williams, AM for Brecon and Radnorshire stated yesterday that the 2.5 million doses of vaccine ordered for Wales would only be enough to treat 70% of susceptible animals in Powys and Monmouthshire - what about the other 30% of animals in those two counties, and the other 13 or so counties in Wales?

So there is inadequate provision for vaccine in Wales, along with late delivery for the inadequate amount of vaccine ordered.

As a farmer, I am happy to accept a duty of care for my animals, where I ensure that they have every protection that is available to them. I vaccinate my stock regularly to ensure that they have immunity against clostridial diseases (Heptavac - P), drench them regularly to prevent fluke/worms, and use pour ons to protect against flystrike. Why is it now that we are 3 days from a point where there is a potential risk for my animals to contract Bluetongue and I am powerless to prevent them from the possibility?

We are now on the brink of another potential disaster for farming here. While DEFRA and the EU discuss zones and funding, and who should have the vaccine first, the disease will not respect borders to counties, and could feasibly come to Wales more quickly than expected.

It is not good enough. While you can get Anderson to write another 'independent' report at the end of this year which will soft soap any Government responsibility, I could be looking at having lost a flock of 1st class pure Welsh Mountain sheep, a flock which has taken generations of farming to bring to the standard that they are now. I think it is dereliction of duty, and it is more than disappointing to me.


(Name supplied)

The Anderson Whitewash

Well, what a surprise, yet again no blame attaches to anyone:
Thanks to
March 13 2008 ~ ".. ignorance of virology and cutting-edge technology, idiotic and unscientific opposition to vaccination, institutionalised secrecy.."
Our own "Lessons Not Learned report" would look somewhat different from that of Dr Anderson.
As in 2001, vaccination was opposed at every stage - in spite of the eminent voices calling for it on August 4th including that of Bernard Vallat, not to mention Peter Kendall. Never before had conditions been so entirely favourable: We knew the strain, we knew the source, we had supplies of the exact match vaccine to hand, we knew the timescale.The virus could have been stopped in its tracks within days by ring vaccination from the outside inwards - Instead, it reappeared in September. (Blog (new window))
As in 2001, the available rapid on-site RT-PCR diagnosis was not used. It has now been used to track and eliminate pathogens globally for nearly a decade. Apart from UK commercial jealousy - what can be stopping its use here?
As in 2001, healthy animals were killed en masse. On the Emerson's free range farm, for example, even the two pet goats were killed. The killing of the pigs and cows continued well into the night under arc lamps. Not one of the animals was subsequently found to have been infected. In fact, only a handful of the 2000 or so animals killed turned out to have been infected.
As when Gordon Brown was at the Treasury, lack of funding into animal disease caused the head of Pirbright to say just months before the outbreak, "Year on year, we are able to do less science or we are able to employ less people, and this is an area of work that spans from foot and mouth through to bluetongue virus.."
Simple failures to understand farming needs, such as lack of cattle handling eqipment, led to distress and delay. Communication with ordinary people was poor. Country-wide over regulation led to massive losses. The UK reputation slid further into the mire. In 2002 the official inquiries, anxious not to whisper criticisms too loudly at those great ones who had made such an unholy, bloody, fiasco of things, listed some gentle recommendations. They were the lessons to be learned. DEFRA did not learn them. Blog (new window) Reading Dr Anderson's "we found much to applaud.." review , we can hear the hollow laughter of despair all over the country.

Yet again a succinct and accurate view!