Devastated farmers speak out

The farmer at the centre of the second foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak has spoken out about the impact on his family of the slaughtering of his herd.

John Gunner, 60, who rents land in the village of Normandy, Surrey, described the outbreak as a "terrible disaster". He told the Daily Telegraph that when he heard about the first outbreak on Woolfords farm he became "extremely worried."

He said: "I was checking the cows every three hours. We hoped the outbreak would bypass us."

He told the newspaper Defra officials had checked the herd first on Sunday when there were no signs of the disease. By Monday lunchtime however, "a couple of them looked not quite right. One was limping and another was dribbling at the mouth."

His 48 cows in one field were then culled, followed by the remainder of the herd in another two fields. Tests then revealed some of the animals did have FMD.

He told the Daily Telegraph that if Pirbright laboratories were shown to be the source of the outbreak, he would feel "annoyed that people who were dealing with such dangerous diseases are totally irresponsible. I know it's a necessity to have these people doing it but there should be very strict controls and it should never been allowed to get out."

Yesterday, Roger Pride, the owner of the first Surrey herd to have been infected with FMD described at a press conference how his family had been "living a nightmare" since the disease struck.

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