STOP THE SLAUGHTER - STOP THE SCARE Speech by Alistair McConnachie at Morpeth Town Hall, Thursday 12 April 2001.

Without putting too fine a point on it, the present slaughter policy is unnecessary, illogical, unscientific, uneconomic and inhumane.

We are looking at a medieval and horrifying policy which is destroying our farming industry, leaving the countryside desolate, paralysing our rural communities and damaging the tourist businesses, and which is leaving behind itself a massive, man-made human welfare tragedy.

And for what? Well, to try to understand this policy, let us look at the "justification", inverted commas, for the slaughter.

The slaughter attempts to eradicate Foot and Mouth disease by killing animals faster than the disease can spread. The aim is to achieve "disease free" status, in order that the export markets can be reopened.

OK, that’s the justification. Now, I said the slaughter was UNNECESSARY

It’s UNNECESSARY because, if our aim is "disease free" status, then we’re going to get that back quicker if we vaccinate.

For example, if we use emergency vaccination we will regain "disease free" status one year after the last emergency vaccination, or one year after the last outbreak, whichever is the later. Since vaccination will lead to outbreaks finishing sooner, then export markets will return quicker if we use emergency vaccination.


because, if the disease is carried in the air, or by birds, or by humans, then killing animals within a 2 mile radius of an outbreak isn’t going to make a bit of difference.

I was speaking to a farming family last night, whose situation illustrates the madness of this policy.

Malcolm and Gillian Iredale own 6 rare pedigree Highland cattle at Carrock House near Penrith. Maff is insisting on culling their much loved healthy animals and both Malcolm and Gillian intend to hold out for as long as they possibly can.

There are no animals left in the neighbouring farms. Every farm around them has been devastated. The area lies desolate. There is not a living thing in sight, apart from their 6 Highland cattle. There is absolutely no point whatsoever in these animals being killed because even if they caught the disease they have nothing to pass it onto.

And logically speaking also, it doesn’t make economic sense to base policy entirely upon achieving disease-free status for the export markets, because disease-free status is a highly vulnerable condition, and can be lost at any time.

And there’s no telling when the export markets may fall or disappear. Are all the Europeans really going to rush out and buy British meat again? We may find that nobody wants to buy our meat, disease-free or not.

As far as the export markets are concerned, we also need alternative polices which will enable us to maintain a successful farming industry, whether or not we have disease-free status.

An alternative to relying upon the export trade is to develop new home grown markets right here. We import more beef, lamb and pork than we export. This means there is an untapped home market for national produce. However, many British farmers remain dependent on export markets because supermarkets buy cheaper meat from countries with low wages, and low health and environmental standards.

Farmers Markets, however, have been growing successfully throughout Britain. These Markets are able to provide quality food below supermarket prices. These Markets also boost the local rural and tourist industries. We should have one in every town in Britain.


Because slaughtering animals which could be exposed to the disease, or which have the disease, or which have had the disease will reduce herd immunity ensuring that the disease is going to be worse next time it hits.


Because it is costing several BILLIONS to save an export trade worth only MILLIONS

and it’s INHUMANE

Because the cure is far worse than the disease. Indeed, this is a disease from which the vast majority of animals will recover.

The Official 1968 report into the 1967 outbreak condemned the slaughter policy as "crude and primitive"

So, whatever way you look at it, it’s wrong and we need to demand:

- an immediate stop to the slaughter of healthy animals;

- vaccination to be made available;

- an end to the scare which is paralysing the countryside;

- a reassessment of the policy of killing animals with an illness from which almost all would recover, and;

- Farmers Markets to be established in every town in Britain, in order to provide a valuable and profitable home grown alternative to the export trade.


I understand the pressures that are upon farmers. They are in a terrible situation. Many of them are isolated. Many are even confined to their farms. It seems their room for manoeuvre is severely limited.

- They do not know the facts. The "gruesome" details of the "horrific" disease are being played up to scare the farmer into going along.

- They have been panicked
Talk of "firebreaks" and "firewalls" and "pre-emptive strikes" and "taking out" has the effect of dramatising the problem, creating fear and spreading panic.

- In many cases it seems they are being led to the slaughter, quite literally, and however unwittingly.

– And most of all, they feel intimidated
When the overall atmosphere is one of general ignorance of the facts – with all the related fear, panic, and hysteria attached – then most farmers, naturally, are reluctant to stand out against the mass slaughter policy for fear of being blamed for making matters worse. Moreover, they look around themselves and see the so-called "experts", the "men from the Ministry", vets, police and even the Army, and they are, quite naturally, intimidated into just going along with the policy.


I would like to see farmers saying "Look, we’re not prepared to go along with this anymore. There is a better way. There is an

alternative." I would like to see farmers saying, "We demand

- an immediate stop to the slaughter of healthy animals;

- vaccination to be made available;

- an end to the scare which is paralysing the countryside;

- a reassessment of the policy of killing animals with an illness from which almost all would recover, anyway, and;

if you are going to keep reminding us about these export markets, then let us look at new ways of exploiting the domestic market, such as, for example,

- Farmers Markets to be established in every town in Britain, in order to provide a valuable and profitable home grown alternative to the export trade."


Let me tell you a little story which illustrates the absurdity and cruelty of the present policy. We had a situation in the south of Scotland last week where a woman had her pet goat killed.

Well, it’s only a pet goat, you say. Well, no actually. The story of this sacrificial goat illustrates perfectly the craziness which is abroad in the land.

Misty was a perfectly healthy animal, but because it lay within the 2-mile radius, it was sentenced to death. Well, the owner, Mrs Walls, was having none of it and she refused point blank to give any written permission. She contacted me and I said to her, "Whatever you do, don’t sign anything." So what happened?

Two policemen came round, kept her talking in the kitchen, and meanwhile the vet and the Maff official broke into the padlocked shed at the bottom of her garden, and killed the goat!

Now, she contacted me again and we were able to get some good publicity for the incident which resulted in a front page story in The Daily Telegraph on Monday 9th. But I was shocked.

I have the highest regard for the veterinary profession. As a farmer, my experience with vets is that they will go out of their way to help an animal recover, even if it seems beyond help.

As farmers, we’ve all seen vets affect amazing cures for animals with horrific diseases or atrocious wounds. Therefore, I can’t understand why so many vets, at the moment, are allowing themselves to be used in this manner.

I think many vets do feel very uncomfortable with this policy. I know my local vet has voiced her opposition to it, but she needs to go public. Some are starting to speak out. In yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, a vet wrote in, "I used to be proud to be a vet. I took comfort from the oath ‘to ensure the welfare of animals committed to my care’. Now I feel ashamed …"

Vets, please, break ranks and say, "This slaughter policy contradicts our professional oath and we’ve had enough."


- We can decide now that we are right, and that slaughter has to stop.

- We can spread the Stop the Slaughter message far and wide.

- We can join with other like-minds and stand together.

- We can SPEAK OUT.

- We can passively resist the attacks on our lives, livelihoods and life’s work, to the best of our ability, given the resources available.

And we can do all that in order that the government:

- stops the slaughter of healthy animals;

- makes vaccination available;

- ends the scare which is paralysing our countryside;

- and reassesses the policy of killing animals with an illness from which almost all would recover anyway.

So long as the mass slaughter remains, then the mass scare will remain. The countryside, and the rural and tourist industries will remain closed for business. If we stop the slaughter, we stop the scare and allow the countryside to return to normality.

Thank you.




If the aim is to cut down the number of outbreaks then that can be achieved far quicker by vaccination.


We’ve just had a tuberculosis outbreak in Leicester. What was the first thing the medical authorities did? They vaccinated the local children. There wasn’t any suggestion that this was going to lead to TB becoming endemic throughout Britain. And thankfully, there wasn’t any talk about a 2-mile cull of schoolchildren, either.

Prof Fred Brown, FRS, of the United States Department of Agriculture, is one of the top experts on Foot and Mouth in the world and he has recently stated (see his letter posted at that infected animals can be distinguished from vaccinated animals by a simple test of their blood. And that if a vaccinated animal becomes infected, then it can be identified by the test.

He also stated that if a vaccinated animal becomes infected and becomes a carrier then it is extremely unlikely that it would pass on the virus to other animals. Many attempts to infect animals by bringing them into contact with carrier animals have failed and he knows of only one case!

That also bears out the finding of the 1968 Official Report into the 1967 outbreak. That report stated that: ‘slaughter is a crude and primitive way of dealing with the disease.’

And it emphasised that ‘the danger of carrier animals had been exaggerated and that carriers in a susceptible population did not constitute a significant risk’.


It is not as dangerous as government policy! Whatever the disease may be like, the mass slaughter "cure" is considerably worse!

How many animals have died of Foot and Mouth in Britain in this present outbreak? Not a single one! No animals have died of Pan Asian Foot and Mouth in Britain. However, almost a million have been killed as a direct result of government policy. So, I ask you. what is the bigger killer – Foot and Mouth disease, or government policy!