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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Farmer's diary: Death in the afternoon
Farmer Adam Quinney, writing for BBC News Online
Warwickshire farmer Adam Quinney gives BBC News Online his personal account of watching his livestock being destroyed in the foot-and-mouth cull.

Sarah and I started to farm in our own right shortly after our marriage in 1987. We went into this business because of our interest and love in farming.

Our main goal was to produce a product that is wanted by our customers. With the help of both parents we managed over the years to build the business up.

Even now it is a small farm, but before foot and mouth, we knew that although the road to success would be very bumpy and hard, there was still nothing else we wanted to do.

Each year more and more of our lambs were achieving better grades at the abattoir, each year we were investing and making our farm more efficient.

Some of the farms ewes have had to be put down
With Sarah's wages as a teacher it meant that the farm's small profits could be reinvested.

Last autumn we took on a full time employee for the first time so that we could hopefully raise our standards even more.

One of the joys of farming for me is that each season brings different subjects into play; animal diets, plant husbandry, mechanical engineering, obstetrics, construction, driving skills, animal genetics, soil technology - not to mention the satisfaction of actually doing the work.

Over the years my passion for farming has increased rather than declined.

So it is with ever growing anger that I watch my farm's future being jeopardized by MAFF and its associated departments.

After many hours on the phone last week, I managed to get some movement from the Intervention Board, who are, and I use the word advisedly, dealing with my welfare for destruction scheme.

Red-tape problems

I made my application on 4 April. The IB could now find no trace of my vet's paperwork and asked for him to fax it again, which he did for the fourth time.

On receiving the fax, they said that he had faxed the old form and this was not acceptable.

My vet now repeated the information on the new form.

After faxing this form three times over a two-day period, they still said they could not find it.

So I asked a farming friend of mine near Newcastle if he could take the faxed form round to the IB - a big thank you Gordon.

Local MAFF officials have been very helpful. Their inquiries into my problem with the IB have turned up the fact that a license was issued on the 20th of April, although nobody was informed, which would explain why a transport company telephoned me last week saying that they were coming to collect my cattle under the scheme.

When I pointed out to them that there is a form D notice on the farm and that no animal can leave alive, they were most surprised because nobody had told them that.

The farm is waiting for restrictions to be lifted
To date we have ourselves had to shoot over 60 ewes out of our six hundred. In most winters we would normally put down around twelve.

We have had to do this purely on welfare grounds, due to being unable to move sheep to shelter in March and then to good grazing in April.

If I ever hear a MAFF official in the coming years saying that farmers need to improve welfare, I will remind him of one or two points.

On Sunday we put down four more ewes who had lost too much body condition to continue.

On Monday, MAFF phoned to inform me that the cull would start on my farm on Tuesday. We could at any point decide on withdrawing stock from the scheme.

Sarah and I spent the rest of Monday looking at our future grass and feed supplies, trying to get some information on when the restrictions would be lifted.

We wanted to keep as many animals out of the welfare cull as possible, but after much soul searching we decided to send all our cows, a few ewes and all the hoggetts apart from a few kept for breeding this autumn.

Tuesday came, the MAFF team arrived and helped us pen the animals. The slaughter men then began their task,

They worked efficiently through the penned sheep, with another group checking the animals afterwards.

Cows shot

The cows were then shot. We decided to stay while the animals were being put down, mainly to satisfy ourselves that the work was being done correctly.

The MAFF teams were excellent both in how they performed their task and in their sensitivity towards Sarah and me.

I hope that I am never put in this position again of destroying years of work.

I thought that the cows would upset me most, but it was seeing the sheep, who we have battled with through this difficult time, which made me feel wretched.

All that effort, to then put these animals in the ground.

I have no problems with killing animals for food, but the waste of this cull is so wrong.

On a happier note, we are at last catching up with some of the farm work, the land is now drying up enough to allow us to work the ground down ready for planting grass, the field was intended for spring corn, but due to the extra stock we are carrying, grass is going to be a much needed crop this summer.

Previous diaries from Adam Quinney:

  • 25 April: Drowning in bureaucracy

  • 19 April: A close shave

  • 12 April: Rain, lambs and skylarks

  • 4 April: Tough decisions

  • 29 March: An Anxious wait

  • 22 March: Staring ruin in the face

  • 12 March: A farmer's fears

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