Cash fears at cow-Aids farm: Couple say milk board halted payments

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The Independent Online
THE CHESHIRE farmer at the centre of the cow-Aids controversy fears that the Milk Marketing Board has stopped payments for his milk in spite of official assurances that it is safe to drink.

Last month, as revealed in the Independent on Sunday, the board stopped collecting milk from Tim Blything's Green Lane Farm in Kelsall, Cheshire, after his cows developed multiple illnesses suggesting they had succumbed to a form of immune deficiency. Several of the cattle tested positive for bovine immunodeficiency virus (BIV), a relative of the human Aids virus, HIV.

Two weeks ago, the board invited Mr Blything and his wife Lynda to a meeting, scheduled for last Tuesday. The couple suspected the board wanted to discuss their milk contract and explained they could not attend the meeting because their solicitor would be on holiday.

The board went ahead with Tuesday's meeting, but yesterday refused to divulge details of its outcome. 'We are not at liberty to divulge information about individual producers,' it said. The board said it asked Mr Blything if he wanted to adjourn the meeting and he said no.

Mrs Blything said the couple had not received a pounds 5,000 milk cheque due from the board in February, nor a cheque for a similar amount due on 17 March. She claims the board has told her the farm was over its milk quota and therefore owed the board money as a levy.

The Ministry of Agriculture has passed both meat and milk from the farm as fit for human consumption and last night the boardconfirmed that this had not changed.

As publicity surrounding the farm has increased, the board, which initially continued collecting its milk, has found potential customers are refusing to buy it.

The Milk Marketing Board continued to pay the Blythings for the milk, but in February it stopped collections - leaving the couple to dump their produce on their fields.

Government scientists are still waiting to hear if they are to receive funding from the Ministry of Agriculture for further tests on the rest of the Blythings' 50-strong herd.

The Ministry of Agriculture yesterday confirmed that further research on BIV would take place, although the exact extent of this had yet to be decided.