Daft. Error. Farce. Ridiculous. Arrogance.

Posted in agriculture, farming, FMD, foot & mouth, Foot and mouth, vaccines, vets, virology by Deputy city editor on September 14, 2007

Cattle Farming: The Herd Struck by Cattle Plague, Slaughtering the Infected Animals
Michael van der Guch,
1660-1725. Seventeenth-century disease control methods still being used by Defra.

And so it came to pass that the journalists, other than those of the BBC, with its direct line to Page Street, had enough of the pathetic lies told by Defra. And as the national food logistics chain felt the strain, Defra and its cast of clowns was finally to be smitten by the tougher media treatment they deserve. Because of the deficiencies of our faux-democratic system including the lack of transparency or accountability of the government and its servants and the short attention span of the media, barring even more new outbreaks, Defra may still get away with it. Wales and Scotland are both free to move animals to slaughter. The “stakeholders” (meat producers) are demanding Defra quickly ease restrictions in England, too. Defra has immediately capitulated to the demands of the stateholders. Defra is feeling lucky.

The idea that this new Defra shambles could all have been avoided is finally penetrating the consciousness of the journalists not that they are able to do much as interest has movewd on from this story even as the horrors emerge (panicked cattle shot down by Surrey police “marksmen” is just one such shambles of which more can be read at warmwell). 

Some hacks are just smart enough to have figured out that Defra SW1 may be a long way from the rural muck but nevertheless it produces a line of pure bullshit and indeed this entire shambles began with a leaky toxic sewer pipe in Defra’s own back yard. Not to mention truck loads of contaminated soil taken off the Pirbright site to sites all over Surrey. Others are either not smart enough or simply report what they are told. 

I dare the hacks – I double dare them – to pick up some of this material we call farm yard manure, and throw it in the face of the department and its vulnerable secretary of state. (We lack squeamishness here in Surrey). But it is doubtful the media will demonstrate the necessary persistance.

Still, if I was the PM I’d be bloody furious that the comrades had screwed this up. And I think the odds for vaccination are starting to shift, especially next time.

The distinguished vet Carl Boyd lives next door to the latest infected premise and they are coming this morning to test his cows. The cows are showing no symptoms. They are the perfect animals to vaccinate. I am hoping he will demand the right to do so. He is one of the smartest men I know (consultant to my Percheron horse Rodin, as it happens) and not a pushover. The government and its thugs have just run into someone who I personally would not wish to have as an enemy. So, the situation has come to an interesting pass…

Warmwell is here.

George Herbert, the parson poet, whom we read on the recommendation of Emma Tennant, wrote:

Cowards tell lies, and those that fear the rod;
The stormy working soul spits lies and froth.
Dare to be true. Nothing can need a lie.
A fault, which needs it most, grows two thereby.


Click here for your official Defra FMD movement licence for your rat


6 Responses

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  1. Roger Ledger said, on September 14, 2007 at 9:17 am

    In a way – good. This could be interesting. Please keep us updated. If there is controversy i do not expect we will hear of it elsewhere.
    Keep it up please.

  2. Quita Allender said, on September 14, 2007 at 11:29 am

    It’s unbelievable that they’re still not vaccinating – but then, knowing DEFRA, why am I surprised??

    Let’s hope that Carl takes the struggle on board – anyone who takes care of Rodin must be special! Remember Rodin’s ‘The Gates of Hell’? We must stop DEFRA from opening those again in this outbreak.

    Yours admiringly,

  3. cath said, on September 14, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Defra must vaccinate-to-live now. How can they have the ‘brass-face’ not to, since they had a major part in causing this pirbright outbreak?

    Defra is well aware that even if he has no clothes, the Emperor has absolute authority. And so it is.

    What a quiet, placid nation we are. Consett only happens once in a lifetime.

    Great Pan, preserver of the four-legged innocent, please help them now.

  4. Seb Schaefer said, on September 25, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    The fools refuse to learn…and get more foolish every day… now they fight gnats by killing cows!

  5. Jane Brooks said, on September 26, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    As a farmer/journalist I am searching for answers to questions, byt the answers seem just as elusive as they were when I wrote this some weeks ago.

    Jane Brooks Column in Pigworld last month – written just after the first outbreak

    Like all other pig producers in the country I have to admit to currently living in a state of near panic, god willing by the time this is printed the outbreak will be contained, if it is not then we will all be living on the edge of a precipice, but I do have a few questions:

    The Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright is as far as I can see a hazardous government biochemical research facility, alongside which is the Merial Animal Health vaccine laboratory, sharing the same site but working independently. The Pirbright site may be responsible for the current F & M outbreak which was caused by a virus similar to the one in the 1968 outbreak and not seen in the UK since then except at Pirbright. In January 1960 vaccination research at Pirbright was the presumed cause of foot and mouth infection at a farm near Guildford, at the time the facilities disease security measures were improved and air filtration was introduced to the isolation units.

    Perhaps someone could explain hopefully in words of one syllable because like many farmers I feel somewhat like a mushroom, kept in the dark and fed on …….., why are a government research facility and a commercial lab sharing the same site, I believe that the Institute has a class 4 biosecurity level, the same as a chemical weapon facility or a facility such as Porton Down. Also I wonder just how many of the Grand Society Dames ensconced in their Surry Mansions knew they lived on the doorstep of a potentially hazardous biochemical research plant.

    Merial are a world leader in animal health products – where would we all be without Ivomec and the benefits of vaccine research are without doubt globally significant, or would be if the foot and mouth vaccines they developed were being used to combat the current crises, I believe the vaccine is used in Argentina and we still eat meat imported from there.

    If the animals in this country are, as we are led to believe, infected with the vaccine strain itself then wouldn’t the vaccine be a prefect match, I have to say that I do not understand the reluctance to lose the UK’s Foot and Mouth free status, I believe the Dutch who are members of the EEC have a vaccination programme whereby they use a programme of buffer zone vaccination in which they identify and cull any stock that could have been infected or are at risk of infection and then vaccinate a buffer zone of uninfected stock to create a fire wall of immune animals.

    I think that a vaccinated animal takes about 4 to 5 days to acquire a strong level of immunity, my question is would it be possible to get ahead of the virus by vaccinating a ring of farms 4 to 5 days ahead of anticipated first exposure to the virus, a huge amount of research has been done into the spread of the virus, perhaps enough to make it possible to identify where a vaccination programme would be most effective, say for example on the edge of the 10 km. surveillance zone. If animals were vaccinated how long would it take to get our Foot and Mouth free status back again, how would this compare with culling.

    If we are not going to use a vaccination policy in this country then why on earth is the bloody vaccine being produced here with all the associated bio-security risks, perhaps it should only be produced in countries where it will be actually used. It rather brings to mind the 1942 release of Anthrax onto the tiny Scottish island of Gruinard by British scientists from Porton Down, the island became so contaminated it was out of bounds for 50 years.
    Wild Roe deer and muntjac are as common in Surrey as they are in my home county of Warwickshire and although they are less likely to become infected because they have little contact with domestic animals how are they being monitored and can we be sure that the disease is not present in our native wildlife, what steps have been taken to check animals such as the wild deer that unlike our stock are still able to roam freely around the countryside.
    Finally I read somewhere that we are a net importer of meat, so why is the export trade so important, yes I know that is a very simplistic view of things and the export trade is very important to British farmers, but in Europe we do import meat from a whole load of countries that vaccinate and lets face it if my rare breed pigs in common with many other rare breeds in the country have been given a special dispensation to be vaccinated against Foot and Mouth in the event of an outbreak to protect their rather limited gene pool where does that leave our Foot and Mouth free status.
    If Pirbright is the source of the outbreak, who will pick up all the costs already being borne by the industry? So many questions not enough answers.
    The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author. JB

  6. Kayjays said, on September 26, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Will DEFRA ‘get away with it’?
    Probably in this age when – the more outrageous the misdemeanour the less the penalty.
    Yet, as I write, there are legal minds at work on behalf of livestock farming to evaluate the potential of making claim against the organisation, sorry,
    Job Creation Scheme – that is DEFRA -for apparent negligence and mismanagement.

    … and Debby has the audacity to tell farmers to ‘Check their stock closely/at least twice a day/more thoroughly.
    Perhaps they should at least sue for use of insulting language!

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