Villagers in protest at MAFF slaughter

Monday 23 April 2001

ANGRY villagers formed a blockade at the entrance to a farm in Tibberton in a desperate bid to stop a herd of healthy pedigree cows being slaughtered.

Farmer Rob Chilman used barbed wire and a tractor to seal off Old House Farm after the Ministry of Agriculture ruled his animals were to be slaughtered because his farm was in an infected area.

But when MAFF representatives arrived, they were turned back by more than 30 villagers brandishing placards reading "Save our Cows" and "Stop the Killing", some chanting out "MAFF or Mafia".

Today, Mr Chilman vowed to continue to block attempts to slaughter his award-winning herd of 140 pedigree Holstein Friesians.

"This is purely political and has nothing to do with the health of the animals," he said.

"I don't totally disagree with the cull for certain cases where it is justifiable but in this case it just seems ludicrous to obliterate healthy animals."

Mr Chilman, whose father built up the herd in 1968 after the last outbreak of foot-and-mouth, has been appealing to senior MAFF officials to spare his cattle following a case of foot-and-mouth at nearby Ravenshill Farm on April 7.

He is now one of only two farms left in the village with livestock.

"A Ministry vet came out on Saturday and said that since it was 14 days since the last case, I was home and dry," he added.

"He said the disease would have shown by now and my animals were perfectly healthy.

"Two hours later MAFF were on the phone to say that a valuer would be at the farm yesterday, which meant that my animals had to be slaughtered.

"I'm very angry and feel totally numb.

"It's not about the money. I have a herd of fit, healthy cows and MAFF wants to destroy them. It's mass murder for no good reason."

Negotiate access

MAFF has to try and serve a Form A notice twice before taking legal action to slaughter animals.

"This is the first time I have officially turned them away and I won't let them in next time either," Mr Chilman said. "Nobody is getting near my cows."

A MAFF spokesman said the policy to slaughter animals near infected farms was helping contain the disease.

"We have been trying to negotiate access to Mr Chilman's farm for some time," the spokesman said.

"We will try and serve the Form A notice within the next few days and after that, we will go to court."