FMD IN WALES 'MISSED THE PRESS'
by Allan R. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- A week after reporting that foot and mouth disease has=
been wreaking havoc with tourists and walkers along the Pembrokeshire Coas= t of Wales -- an area that comprises Great Britain's only National Park tha= t includes long stretches of rugged coastline -- I came home to discover th= at the outbreak has also wrought a bit of havoc with publications in the Un= ited States.
The June issue of National Geographic Magazine featured a story called, = "Wales, Finding Its Voice." The story detailed how the ancient Welsh langu= age and the economy of tiny Cymru -- as it is known in Welsh -- are on the = rise, and that the revival of the language is having an effect even in Arge= ntina, where dwell the largest group of Welsh speakers outside of Wales.
= The fascinating and upbeat story, written by Simon Worrall, made me long to= return to the place I'd just visited and also made me wish I'd seen Worral= l's article prior to my trip.
I did notice that little was said in the story of the problems Wales i= s facing with FMD. Fortunately, the article pointed to additional informat= ion on the National Geographic Website.
The power of the Internet glared = through again. There on the Geographic Website [http://www.nationalgeograp= hic.com/ngm/0106/feature4/index.html] was a tiny link to late-breaking news= related to Worrall's story under the headline, "Missed the Press."
The update, written by Ann Williams, focused on a family of cattle-and-s= heep farmers who had been featured in the June edition's story. That famil= y in Southeastern Wales faced a new concern besides weather, veterinarian b= ills and falling market prices, Williams wrote.
By the end of April, 2001 -- about a year after Worrall had interviewe= d natives for the National Geographic -- the family saw its entire stock de= stroyed. That included 170 head of cattle, 30 calves, 330 sheep, and 450 l= ambs. That family, Williams reported, "is in better shape than many becaus= e they own their land free and clear."
Only those who keep up with the magazine's Web postings would know the d= arker side of Worrall's story.
Many farmers and ranchers hit by the FMD outbreak have given up returnin= g to their livelihood and have sold their operations. The government has i= nstituted a program to reimburse farmers for destroyed stock, but the devas= tating effects will keep many from continuing ranching.
As late as last week, the Welsh Assembly confirmed that 3,000 sheep are = being slaughtered and that there have been 101 confirmed cases of infected = farms in Wales, England's Daily Mirror reported.
In the central highlands of Wales known as Brecon Beacons, a new case of= FMD was confirmed in late June, according to a report for London's Indepen= dent, just at the time many Welsh shopkeepers and local artisans were hopin= g the government would reopen more of the hundreds of miles of walking path= s that attract summer tourists to the area.
Some paths were opened only to be re-closed again with the latest outbre= ak in the highlands.
Allan R. Andrews is a freelance editor and writer living in Annapolis, M= d. He recently returned from a three-week trip to Wales' Southwestern coast= .