Dairy herd sacrificed to a wrong diagnosis

Western Daily Press April 10, 2001

MAFF came under, renewed criticism last night after it was revealed a pedigree dairy herd was destroyed and another is facing late slaughter following an incorrect foot-and-mouth diagnosis.

Clive Davies watched his pedigree dairy herd slaughtered and years of hard work destroyed because he thought a neighbouring farm bad foot-and-mouth.

Now he has found out the diagnosis was incorrect and his herd was slaughtered in vain.

Tim and Gail Bennett farm down the road in Rodley, Westbury - on - Severn Gloucestershire.

Their herd escaped by the fluke of a clerical error. MAFF confused them with another Bennett farm and thought their animals had already been killed.

Now the Bennetts are fighting to keep their stock alive.

Gail Bennett, aged 45,who farms with husband Tim, 49, said: "We kept wondering why they hadn’t come to cull our animals, but they were out for everyone to see, so we just presumed it must be because of the road in between the two farms.

"But it turned out they had just confused us with Graham Bennett, who had the first foot-and-mouth outbreak near Westbury-on-Severn."

MAFF realised its error and an official called at the Bennetts’

Summer Villa farm on Sunday with a notice saying the animals would have to be slaughtered.

But they decided to fight the order and pressured MAFF into releasing the results of the tests in David Hewlett’s farm where the initial Rodley outbreak had been confirmed on March 27.

Mr Hewlett, of Box Bush farm in Rodley, finally obtained

the thorough diagnostic test results yesterday They were negative, as he, and others in the area had always suspected.

He said: "The vet who examined my sheep was not convinced it was foot-and-mouth at all but before we knew the machinery had been set in motion and nothing could stop it."

Mr Hewlett, 40, accepted 530 would be culled an was even willing to accept the slaughter his 530 beef cattle if it would stop the spread of the disease.

But he did not think his neighbours would also lose their stock.

Mr Hewlett accused MAFF "applying dogma rather than logic" and said there had bee "panic reaction".