11 April 2001
Durham farmer defies angry villagers

By FWi staff

A FARMER has defied police warnings to leave his home following allegations that he spread foot-and-mouth by illegally moving livestock.

The disease has been confirmed on two farms belonging to Richard Dickeson, who has several holdings in County Durham.

Foot-and-mouth has been confirmed at his home at Orchard Farm, Middleton-in-Teesdale and at a nearby rented holding at Baldersdale.

Police advised Mr Dickeson to move out of the area for his own safety after allegations he moved stock illegally between farms incensed the local community.

But Mr Dickeson denied allegations that his actions have encouraged the spread of disease and accused villagers of “gossip-mongering”.

Farmers elsewhere have also rejected claims that they have spread foot-and-mouth by illegally moving livestock despite a resurgence in the number of cases.

In Devon, the National Farmers Union said it was anxious to put into context government insinuations that farmers were being irresponsible.

“If such movements have taken place, and [the disease has spread] as a result, then we would unreservedly condemn those responsible,” said an NFU bulletin.

It added: “No hard evidence has been produced and, in any case, only a tiny minority of the total number of outbreaks would have been caused in this way.”

The union warned that unsubstantiated allegations might serve to damage the reputation of the farming community if they were not put in their proper context.

There are well over 60,000 carcasses strewn across the Devon countryside, some having been dead for well over a week, with no sign of removal, it said.

“All the time they continue to decompose, presenting an ever-increasing health risk and causing huge mental anguish to the affected farmers.”

Devon NFU chairman David Hill told BBC Radio 4s Farming Today programme he would rather producers broke the law than let animals suffer.

“There are people out there with lambs literally dying in puddles of water and in mud, and I cannot blame them for moving those 50 yards down the road on to a grassy field.

“In conditions where, in normal times, they would be in court for welfare – the RSPCA would have taken them there – I cannot condemn farmers for doing that.

Trading standards officials are reportedly investigating some 309 incidents where farmers allegedly moved livestock in break of movement restrictions.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage