The farmer at the centre of the foot and mouth outbreak has described the moment he found out his “world had been turned upside down”.
Speaking at the only press conference he or members of his family will be giving Roger Pride said he was “shocked and devastated” when veterinary officials from Animal Health telephoned to give him the news.
In a statement read on his behalf by NFU head of communications Anthony Gibson on Tuesday (7 August) Mr Pride detailed how events unfolded.
On Thursday (2 August) his father Derrick was checking the cattle when he noticed some were “off-colour and drooling”
“He contacted me and asked me to come and have a look. This I did and it was immediately obvious that something was badly wrong. We contacted our vet straight away and he advised us to contact DEFRA. The vet was on the farm within an hour and a half.
“By this time it was late in the evening and getting dark, so the vet asked us to have the cattle penned by 5.30 the next morning for testing. Testing started at 6am and continued until four in the afternoon. At that time it was far from clear that the animals were in fact suffering from foot and mouth.
“It was about 7pm that Animal Health ‘phoned to say the tests were positive. For a moment, we couldn’t believe it. We were just completely shocked and devastated. It felt as if our whole world had been turned upside down.”
In response to a question Mr Pride was confident that the emergence of sewage from the near-by Pirbright facility in the field where the cattle were grazing did represent a credible source of infection.
Describing the affect on the farm business and the farm shop had been disastrous.
He added: “This has been disastrous to our business. It took 20 years to build the shop as a viable business and we had a good reputation. We are most concerned about the damage to our reputation.”
Asked if the family was considering seeking financial redress from Merial or the Institute for Animal Health should either be found responsible for the leak, Mr Gibson said it was an issue the NFU would advise the family on at a later date.
“Our focus at the moment is on ensuring that the disease is contained and eradicated as soon as possible,” Mr Gibson said.
To read the statement in full – and add your own comment – visit FW’s Food For Thought blog.
- For more on foot and mouth visit the FWi special report homepage