16 March 2001
Mass slaughter: What the papers say
by FWi staff
THE decision to slaughter hundreds of thousands more animals in a bid to bring foot-and-mouth disease under control is analysed by Britains newspapers.
The Times reports that up to one million sheep, pig and goats will die as ministers try to return life in the countryside back to normal within ten days.
It also reports on the horror felt by Herefordshire sheep dealer Keven Feakins when he learned he was responsible for exporting the disease to the Continent.
The Daily Telegraph focuses on the confusion caused by Mr Browns apparent decision to initially include cattle in the safety-first cull.
As near-panic swept through farms in the affected areas and industry leaders issued warnings a lifeless countryside, he appeared to change his mind, it says.
Within two hours of telling journalists that the cull included all susceptible farm livestock, the ministry press office then said that cattle were ruled out.
The Telegraph also reports that agriculture minister Nick Brown is threatened with a countryside revolt after announcing the mass cull.
It quotes Andrew Spence, regional co-ordinator for Farmers For Action, as saying that many farmers wont tolerate the slaughter of healthy animals.
That sentiment is echoed by Cumbrian farmer Maurice Bowman who tells The Independent that he wont allow the men from the ministry on his farm.
“Ill be polite, and Ill leave my gun in the cupboard,” he tells the paper.
“But Im not so sure others will be so restrained. You can only push people so far, and Im afraid weve cracked.”
Nevertheless, Brussels supports the cull, reports the Financial Times.
The European Commission emphasised that culling animals in close proximity to infected areas was the best method of halting the highly contagious illness, it says.
A spokesman for EU health commissioner David Byrne is quoted saying that the slaughter of potentially exposed animals is the most successful eradication policy.
“We fully support the UK decision to take these measures,” he tells the paper. “It improves our confidence that the disease can be contained.”