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Foot and mouth 10 years on

 
Created on 24/02/2011 @ 16:14
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Ten years ago this week we all witnessed sights that we never thought possible in the ‘civilised’ western world.
 
Mountains of slain livestock were stacked up on the sides of busy main roads and set on fire (right) as Foot and Mouth crippled the country from February 18, 2001.
 
The farming industry was ravaged and the billions of pounds were lost in tourism revenue as the horrific images were broadcasted across the world. Some say the country has still not recovered.
 
Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies (below) was in the thick of it as a livestock farmer and Chairman of the National Assembly's Rural Affairs Committee. He now takes an emotional look back at one of Montgomeryshire’s darkest periods in history.

“I will never forget the outbreak which began on 18th February 2001, and moved into Wales on a nearby Montgomeryshire farm.  On the first occasion, many of the farmers affected were fellow rugby players at Shrewsbury RUFC, and in 2001, I was Chairman of the National Assembly's Rural Affairs Committee.

So many things that  I will never forget:  The white-suited gunmen; grown men crying as the livestock they cared for were shot and burned on site; the massive fire alongside the A483 at the Moat Farm which burned for days; and lorries of stinking sheep carcases being driven to huge fires after being left to rot for weeks. It was a horrible experience, especially for the farmers directly affected.

But there are two images that stay with me and are as clear today as they were in 2001.  Firstly, there were the elderly parents, begging me to contact their sons, whose sanity they feared for.  They were so afraid of their sons committing suicide, and I rang them just to talk, so that they would not feel so alone - often in the middle of the night.

And then there was the silence.  I will never forget that Sunday morning, sitting outside having coffee at home, looking out towards Montgomery, Churchstoke and Forden, watching great white plumes of smoke rising from pyres which were burning the big herds which would have otherwise have been grazing the Severn Valley. It was a lovely summer's day, and a dreadful silence. Just the cheery sound of an oblivious robin and a lilting song of a willow warbler. Foot and Mouth Disease scarred farming in Montgomeryshire. Pray that it never happens again.”
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