The Epidemics of 1922–1924
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The Epidemics of 1922–1924 book
Between 1922 and 1924, rural Britain experienced two of the worst foot and mouth disease (FMD) epidemics in 40 years. Their unknown origin and rapacious spread caused anxiety and panic to livestock owners, and for months on end, the veterinary staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF, which took over from the Board of Agriculture in 1919) struggled desperately to bring FMD under control. Their efforts eventually succeeded, but at a price. FMD control cost the taxpayer millions of pounds and practically halted rural life in parts of Britain. At the height of the epidemics, suffering farmers rebelled, issuing increasingly desperate but ultimately unsuccessful demands that MAF alter its FMD control policy. This chapter relates the events and experiences of those years, focusing upon the plight of Cheshire farmers, who were the hardest hit by the disease.