Written by Gertrude Dobbs
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Friday, 5 October 2001

image for Foot And Mouth Crisis Thickens
What? No feet and mouths here!

Cumbria farmer Arthur Sidebottom today shocked the agricultural community by suggesting radical reforms as the county's farmers prepare to restock their farms following the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Speaking from atop a fence whilst chewing on a piece of straw, Mr Sidebottom said: "Oime not one for genetically modifying stuff just to make a bigger profit, but oime for breeding sheep and cows with no feet or mouths at all - that would put a stop to foot-and-mouth disease overnight."

Colleagues of Mr Sidebottom welcomed his suggestion. "It would make the sheep easier to find in the morning," said local farmer Ted Tedson. "And the cows would never be standing up to graze, so that would mean always fine weather. Or is it the other one?"

But not everyone agrees. Mrs Hilda Highhopes, head of the Amalgamated Union of Sheep Dog Breeders and Cattle Prod Manufacturers, spoke of her dismay at the possibility of footless cattle. "It's a British institution that our cattle roam freely o'er our green and pleasant lands," said Mrs Highhopes. "Where would we be if Sunday motorists couldn't stop to admire a fine bit of roadkill? And where's the fun of leaving farm gates open if all the cattle can do is sit there and look at you?"

Environment Minister Mary Becket was quick to issue a statement. "The government has no plans to allow the breeding footless or mouthless cattle," said Mrs Becket's office. "Mr Sidebottom will not be licensed to do anything of the sort."

But Mr Sidebottom appeared pensive as he chewed his straw.

"License?" he said. "Well, licenses have never stopped us farmers doing just what we wanted to do in the past. If they had, we wouldn't be sitting on a BSE epidemic now would we?"

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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