Concerns have been raised about Defra’s response to the ongoing outbreaks of bird flu.
At the NFU’s latest council meeting, several members took to the floor to complain about the department’s handling of the situation.
Patrick Wreathall, a turkey farmer from Essex, said: “I know the chap who lost the turkeys back in November up in Lincolnshire, and one of his biggest concerns at the time was the way Defra acted.
“They were, if you will excuse the pun, running around like headless chickens.”
Other members claimed Defra officials were having to go and knock on doors to find out who owned poultry.
Door to door
Suffolk farmer Steven Rash said: “I actually live in the 10km surveillance zone close to the Redgrave and Diss outbreaks and Defra are going door to door. They knocked on my door asking have we got poultry, do we know other people with poultry, are there any backyard flocks in the village that we know of.
“The only problem is they are working with a really appalling database. They did not actually know who I was, it was a casual call. They then found the farm name had a different name on it and they have got a phone number which is nothing to do with anything I have ever seen before.”
East Anglia regional board chairman Will Dickinson said it was not good enough for Defra to force farmers to give data if they were not using it properly.
“Defra yet again are struggling to identify flock owners”, he added.
“Every June 1 I have to fill in their ruddy form which says I have six chickens. All of us are obliged to fill in these stupid, senseless forms and they stack all the data and do not ruddy well use it.
“We had an outbreak of TB in a herd and they had not got a clue who had got cattle. It is absolutely disgraceful. Everybody has to fill in the statistics and they do not use them. Defra have the information and they should be forced to use it.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “Where avian flu is concerned we take swift action to limit the spread of disease with restrictions around affected premises and full investigation to determine the source of infection.”