It’s a rumour we’ve been hearing from well informed sources in the rural economy for a long time but now a farmer has blown the lid publicly.
Pembrokeshire farmer Nuala Preston, has said she was offered an infected sheep for £2000 by an anonymous phone caller and says several farmers in Pembrokeshire had received similar offers.
“I was so horrified I slammed the phone down.” She said, “I was absolutely appalled that anyone should dream of doing that. But I think some farmers on the brink of desperation and bankruptcy might be tempted to go for it because at least they would get compensation for their animals.”
Glyn Powell, deputy president of the Farmers’ Union of Wales, commented “It may be an element of the inexplicable spread of the disease to unexplained quarters.”
We’ve heard similar stories from practically everywhere that has infected areas, and the allegations come together with discrepancies between numbers of animals culled and the number farmers claim they own on EU subsidy forms. Some farmers who’ve had claims have even been found to have no livestock at all.
Mrs Preston is obviously proof that not all farmers are happy to use any method to get more cash, but there’s a growing suspiscion that such concerns are far from universal.