4 June 1999

Malicious callers id hidden from victims

A MID-WALES farming family has failed to persuade the Welsh Office to identify the source of malicious calls about the condition of their stock.

Sarah Thomas, who farms in partnership with husband Alun and sons Aled and Emyr, says that divisional agriculture department staff have made three 140-mile round trips from Carmarthen in order to make unannounced inspections of the 2000 ewes run at Eisteddfa Gurig Farm, Ponterwyd, Ceredigion.

The latest was in response to a claim that there were 30 unburied sheep carcasses within view of a public right of way. But the veterinary surgeon, who made the check before revealing her identity, found no dead stock.

"She reported that the sheep were in very good condition, which is what we would have expected as we take a pride in our reputation for a high standard of stockmanship," said Mrs Thomas.

"Divisional officers told us that the call came from a walker from Dolgellau, but they insisted that they could not reveal his or her identity."

She added that she was not aware of any serious confrontation with walkers, for whom the family provides a car park. However, she suspected that the caller could be one of a small number of people who resented being told to keep their dogs on leads.

"It is small wonder that so many farmers dislike walkers and are angry about new access legislation. We would prefer not to have a footpath through the farm, but have tried to work in harmony with those who want to use it. Politicians who are very anxious to give a right to roam have no idea of the impact it will have on farming," Mrs Thomas said.

A divisional animal health department spokesman said he could not comment on any visits made to specific farms. &#42