20 March 2001
Hardcore pledge to oppose slaughter
By Jeremy Hunt, north-west England correspondent
A HARDCORE group of Cumbrian farmers have pledged to maintain opposition to a cull of 300,000 sheep ordered to fight foot-and-mouth disease.
A united front presented by National Farmers Union (NFU) local officials after talks with chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore is in danger of vanishing.
Grassroots farmers are angry that Mr Scudamore said that there was no need to call in the Army to help dispose of carcasses on Monday (19 March).
Six hours later it emerged that the Army had been called in.
Mr Scudamore said he hoped that farmers opposed to an extended cull of apparently healthy animals would not resist it with farm-gate barricades.
Peter Allen, NFU hill farming committee chairman, said he believed that up to 90% of farmers would support the extended cull of apparently healthy sheep.
Farmers, veterinary experts and Ministry of Agriculture officials were “singing the same tune” in tackling foot-and-mouth, Mr Allen told journalists.
But it now seems a growing number of farmers have lost the music.
Less than 24 hours after the meeting, there appears to be a groundswell of opinion against the governments handling of the disease.
Mr Scudamore said he hoped to reduce the time between diagnosing foot-and-mouth disease and slaughtering infected livestock to 24 hours.
Farmers report carcasses left rotting in fields for several days.
But Lancashire farmer Alan Barnes, Great Harwood, whose pedigree Blue-faced Leicester flock has been slaughtered, applauded the Ministrys approach.
“Everything was done swiftly and efficiently. I have no complaints.”
Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage