Foot-and-mouth 10 years on: Farmers share their stories

WE spoke to some farmers affected by the 2001 Foot-and-Mouth outbreak to find out how they were affeted by the devestating spread of the deisease.

Thomas Binns, Lancashire

Beef and sheep farmer, Downham, Lancashire.

Thomas Binns had one of the last farms in Lancashire to be affected by the disease and he was culled out on June 21. He re-stocked after the crisis.

“We lost about 3,000 fell sheep and about 70 suckler cows, none of which was later found to have been infected,” says Mr Binns.

“For some time the disease had stopped on the other side of the A59, but suddenly it jumped and spread towards us. It was devastating and really pulled on the emotions.

“The moment it really hit home for me was when we went up to gather the fell sheep. Gathering sheep from the hills, which takes a couple of hours, always gives me a sense of satisfaction for a job coming together.

“But this time when we brought them down, the sheep, some with young lambs, were taken across the lane into a field where they were to be slaughtered.

“It choked me and I had to go inside when they started. It was all too much.

“The nagging feeling for some of us is that some questions were never really answered as to how it got into the country. It certainly was not introduced by farmers and it was not knowingly spread by farmers.”


Paula Wolton, Devon

Organic beef and sheep farmer from Hatherleigh, Devon

Farming across 52ha (130 acres) in Devon, the suckler cow herd and sheep flock of Paula Wolton escaped the cull which affected many in west Devon in 2001.

A decade on she remains furious about the Government’s actions during the crisis and the lessons she believes have not been learnt.

She says: “Cattle movement controls have improved because of foot-and-mouth, but the Government remains non-committal when it comes to any future crisis and whether they would cull or vaccinate.

“The Silver Birch trial showed that bad communication remains a major issue and there are not enough vets on the ground to tackle the disease effectively. The policies they continue to adopt are political, not practical.

“The policies of tackling disease should be overhauled entirely. Look at Holland. That country relies on exports and has a vaccination to live policy for foot-and-mouth. Why are we not doing the same?

“The scary thing is we seem less prepared now than we were 10 years ago.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • I echo the points above. We should have a vaccination to live policy and it needs to be decided now. It is more than abhorrent to rely on wholesale slaughter as a means of 'control'.

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  • we are still paying the price of the mistakes made by goverment ,6 day rules movement passports ,traceability == rubish they cant trace anything further than slaughter house

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  • Superior thinking dmonestrtaed above. Thanks!

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