Condolences to UK Dopers on the apparent meltdown of their entire agricultural syste

I mean, wow, you guys. Should we start sending CARE packages with Spam in them, a la post-WWII? [insert worried face emoticon] What with mad cow disease, and now the hoof and mouth thing, what’s the future of the Beefeater? Across the Pond we are being treated to almost daily images of cranes dropping the stiffened bodies of various livestock onto funeral pyres. Where will it all end? [rhetorical question, don’t bother to attempt to reply]
[pausing for a moment to be heartily glad the Better Half isn’t a farmer in England]

Spare a thought for my mate. He’s forbidden from returning home for the weekend to his parents farm for God knows how long until this whole thing blows over.

Yeah, it sucks alright.

Whoever decided to close all the local abbatoirs a few years ago must be feeling like a right idiot.

I think the whole supply system will change once the current foot-and-mouth epidemic is over. I hope so.

I was in Scotland Feb. 23 - 27, right when the hoof and mouth outbreak was bordering on contained/spreading. Every day the news (TV and papers) was full of the latest reports and stories from farmers who had lived through a hoof and mouth outbreak before (I think it was the 60’s). It was (and unfortunately still is) one of the saddest things I’d ever heard of.

These poor farmers, through no fault of their own, are put through hell hoping that their herd doesn’t get sick. If just one of their animals shows symptoms, the ENTIRE herd must be culled.

So, it’s like someone comes and takes all the money out of your bank account, you are fired from your job and you don’t know when you can work again, and, to top it off, you have to kill all of your pets.

Now, I realize that this is a simplified version, but the stories that I read just made me feel so bad. One in particular involved one farmer who had killed all his herd, the next morning he saw a calf in the field that they had missed, it was looking to be fed. So, the farmer had to call the officials back out, and finish the job that he thought was complete.

God bless those poor people. May this scourge be taken from them.

There have been a number of repercussions to the public outside the farming community as well, including:

  • meat prices going up (and hordes of shoppers stocking up on meat before they do, cleaning out the supermarkets);
  • major events being cancelled, both those involving animals (horse races and Crufts, for example) and those that don’t (some of the Six Nations rugby matches);
  • travel between city and countryside strongly discouraged;
  • meat products (including processed and sandwich meat) confiscated at ports; and
  • being forced to watch politicians blame each other and foreigners for the epidemic.

All of which have been, for me, minor inconveniences at most. For the farmers and others in the agricultural community, however, this is merely the latest in a series of devastating disasters. Between the fickle weather and the ravages of disease, it’s surprising there’s anything in the supermarkets at all. My heart goes out to those who once again have been hardest hit by this tragedy.

The St. Patricks Day Parade has been cancelled in Dublin. We don’t even have the disease (yet… touch wood).

On the plus side, the pubs will still remain open. (though I will be in Amsterdam!! Yay!!)

Eh, what’s the rationale for cancelling a parade? Can’t they just tell all the horses to stay home, and walk the route? :confused:

DDG, this disease is EXTREMELY contagious. The last big outbreak (60’s or so) came to the British Isles on a breeze blown over from France.

Public officials have banned horse racing, walks in the country (near the farms), and movement of livestock. The reason for this restricition on movement is that humans can pick up the disease on their clothes, shoes, car tires, etc. very easily. They can then transport it where ever they go. Entrances to farms have hay laid across the driveway, then the hay is treated to try and keep cars from spreading it. Workers on farms disinfect themselves before they leave.

So, rather than have thousands of potential disease carriers travel to their country, they’ve called off the parade. Thank God that this disease doesn’t affect humans. The results to animals are bad enough (cows, pigs, and sheep).

…and let’s spare a few thoughts for RyanAir, who refused to refund fares for any Irish passengers going to Wales for the rugby game (which was canceled) or to England or Scotland for the football (as 1000s of Irish people do every weekend). With the result being just about everyone on these flights felt they had to travel or lose what they paid for their flights (and whatever RyanAir is claiming, you can be sure that very, very few of them paid only £6 + taxes). The risks of any of these passengers bringing back F&M is admittedly slim, but it only takes one …

I really, really hope this comes back to bite RyanAir on the arse.

MAFF are working on a radical overhaul of the supply chain (products, services and information - bit like the Oil and Gas review done a couple of years ago). They released an Invitation To Tender through OJEC last week for someone to come and “give them a hand and sort it all out”. (yeah, like a hand all scrunched up in a fist and …). Anyway, I’m working on that right now and I will be coordinating our company bid.

Any smart arses out there got any suggestions for the bid document? I’ll smuggle a funny in - white text on white background - for a dare.

PS It has to be in by Friday 16th March, although having worked with government departments before, if the election is called all government initiatives will grind to a shuddering halt. So no change there then.

Two weeks doesn’t strike me as sufficient time to come up with a watertight proposal to overhaul the whole agricultural supply system. Oh well, I must be young and naïve.

I got an e-mail from about two days ago offering a very cheap weekend package to Wales for that same weekend.

Must be a kick in the teeth for the Irish who booked package deals for the Rugby weekend to see the accommodation they have already paid for being offered so openly. Makes me very, very annoyed.

DDG As said, it is so contagious - walking in the countryside, mass movements of people from around the country …everything is affected until this passes. But hey, at least the meat (these days) is the most closely observed in the world. If it gets through, it’s safe.

Reminds me of travelling on Israeli airplanes in the old days - you might be a amidst all kinds of danger but the security was so good you felt safe. I think…

It’s not at all clear to me how a grass-roots overhaul of the agricultural supply chain is going to happen. And the fact that we had Mr Blair sounding off in Gloucester (I think) a few nights ago about how necessary it was to break the stranglehold the supermarkets have (this isn’t a direct quote) leads me to believe that either (a) he’s grandstanding or (b) he’s clueless. Both are scary.

The main reason cattle have to travel much (much) further to slaughter is that far fewer abattoirs are now licensed. The main reason for this was BSE.

The main reason that supermarkets have a stranglehold on the meat-farming industry is that consumers want cheaper meat. No amount of political gesturing is going to change this. OTOH, people’s spending decisions might.

That said, as someone who (fortunately for me) doesn’t farm but has family who does (and did), the condolences are welcome (by proxy, anyway).

The only slightly better-than-bloody-dreadful news is that apparently the disease is spreading more slowly than in '67. At least for now.

What really irritated me was the outcry by some so-called country-loving ramblers (US’ers: people who go out walking in the country, often on public footpaths) that the temporary restriction on the use of some footpaths was somehow infringing their civil liberties. Note that most ramblers were ok with this, but you’d think that everyone in the country, urban or not, would whole-heartedly back any and all measures designed to stop this carnage.

I’m just amazed at how far the panic has spread. I can understand the border controls, although some of them seem to have more of a psychological than a practical effect… like making arriving plane and ferry passengers walk through pans of disinfectant. But the ordinary panic… I’ve overheard several people saying they’ve sworn off eating meat until the crisis is over. Because of a disease that isn’t dangerous to humans and hasn’t shown up on this side of the North Sea yet! They hear that you can’t bring meat from Britain (because of the fear of spreading the disease to Norwegian livestock!) and assume it’s some new deadly food-borne plague :rolleyes:

In spite of my testiness, though, I feel for the farmers who have to cull their animals. It’s a double whammy: an economic loss (because you know the compensation won’t make up for it, it never does) and a psychological blow.

Bad news old chum:Farmer attacked by dog walker.

Reengineering the supply chain of the whole industry should make a difference. Three years ago HM Gov formed LOGIC out of a white paper on the future of the UK Continental shelf Oil and Gas operations. They looked at everything, from contract practices, to tax regimes, to new drilling (hm, coiled tube drills!) etc. I worked on the White Paper (a trivial role in honoured company) and the recommendations are still being implemented. IMHO, HM Gov needs massive public support before they will contemplate a political intervention (fuel protests last year). It seems that without widespread public disruption, there isn’t enough political will to get things done. Sigh.

MAFF want to do the same in ag, but the problem, as you state, are the supermarkets. MAFF uses an “information axis” (in and out of farms) and a “supply and demand axis” that intersects the info axis half way through. I speak to lots of different people in agriculture every day, and they use the same diagram (these people are not farmers, but people who work in the agricultural industry).

The information axis has been worked on for several years, and that’s we have all these tracking products (and that’s the focus of the MAFF portal). The problem is the relative power of the “demand” bit (supermarkets). I don’t know what’s coming, but I reckon there’ll be fireworks.

Incidentally, more information on FMD can be found here:Incubation period and Virus Life.

*Originally posted by bwanasimba *
**Bad news old chum:Farmer attacked by dog walker.

Sigh. Some people ** just don’t get it**.

I agree. The other thing is that in the timeframes we’re talking about ('67 -> '01) people have short memories. Plus you have a lot of younger people becoming consumers who through no fault of their own haven’t experienced, and hence don’t fully appreciate the horrors of, FMD.

Well, I don’t wholeheartedly condemn the supermarkets, to be honest. It’s a bit like shooting fish in a barrel; they’re there because consumers have chosen - they’d prefer to buy cheaper meat (in this case) even though it is generally reckoned to be inferior to that produced by a good butcher. But blaming the consumer is sometimes a bit too easy too - am I going to blame a low-income family because they have to make tough decisions and buy cheaper (= supermarket) meat? No.

Sometimes stuff just sucks.

PS: if (as has been mooted by certain parts of the press) it turns out that the primary case was caused by illegal imports of infected animals (poss. from South Africa?), then the perpetrators they should be hung by the thumbs, IMNSHO…