18 March 2001
Farming reputation hits new low
By Philip Clarke, Europe editor
BRITAINS farmings reputation has slumped to a new low across the English Channel following the spread of foot-and-mouth disease to north-west France.
Remi Fourrier, who heads Britains Meat and Livestock Commission office in Paris, said: “The French public think that British agriculture is a mess.”
One case of foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed in the departement of Mayenne. It is believed to have spread from imported British sheep.
France has been disgusted by TV pictures of British farmers feeding pigs on waste human food – a practice banned in France since 1994, said Mr Fourrier.
That views were echoed by an English farmer in Mayenne, who asked not to be named. Anti-British feeling was running high, he told Farmers Weekly.
There is enormous anger that so many British lambs exported to France have seemingly disappeared,” said the farmer.
“About 50,000 are believed to have come in during February, yet only 20,000-30,000 have been destroyed.”
But some French farmers are still sympathetic to Britains plight.
Dominique Trubert, who runs a pig farm near Gevieze in Brittany, said he was genuinely afraid of the disease and was doing all he could to stop it.
But, while the local farmers blamed Britain for sending mad-cow disease to the Continent, they realised foot-and-mouth was a different problem.