Livestock husbandry

The workshop heard from Remo a sheep farmer from Longo Mai, France, who identified the problems resulting from compulsory EU laws on the vaccination of livestock. Remo higlighted the fact that it should be the decision of the peasant whether his animals are vaccinated, however over recent years the EU Comission has implemented strict controls on livestock which include the need for prophylactic vaccinations for a range of contageous and routine illnesses. Enforcement of these rules includes the restriction of movement of non-vaccinated livestock and the refusal meaning that non-vaccinated animals can not be slaughtered. In addition in some instances farmers can be fined up to 150 Euros per anumal for refusal to vaccinate.

One of the inadvertent benefits of this repression of non-compliant farmers is that it has galvinised opposition to these laws among a surprisingly wide cross-section of Europe's farming communities. It has become common for government vets to now vaccinate farmers' animals without the permission of the farmer, in some cases coming onto the farm by force and, or , removing the animals with the help of the police. In these cases their has been strong demonstrations of solidarity among neighbouring farmers who have used direct action to block the illegal removal of these animals. In Switzerland earlier this year, more than 50 people blocked the entrance to a farm which the government vet was attempting to access.

The workshop also heard from a french farmer who identified a number of homeopathic alternative treatments including the treatment of blue-tounge virus among cattle using a medicine derrived from spiders' venom. It was also identified that local breeds of animals are inherently more resistant to pests and diseases as their immune system is evolved for its specific diet and edaphic conditions. Susceptability to disease must be expected when for example a Holstein-Fresian cow is farmed in the south of spain on dry stall-fed feed and in a much warmer climate than that which it evolved for. It was reccommended that a combination between a more holistic approach to livestock management combined with continued resistance to unnecessary prophylactic vaccinations could result in a change in the law. This call however must be supported by the small and large.