Paul Sutmoller passed away with peace in his heart on January 4th.
The circumstances that led to my introduction
to Paul were nothing short of horrific.
Here in the UK the now well known FMD
outbreak was managed by 'Political
Expediency' not sound science.
Funeral Pyres cropped up all over the country.
Mass slaughter we were told was the only way
to control the disease.
Thanks to the internet those of us here with a special professional interest in Rare Breeds were able to reach out to our colleagues, particularly in the Netherlands.
There was a rapid response. Leading the charge was Paul Sutmoller.Meetings were hastily convened and a couple of us visited the Netherlands for face to face advice. Ultimately we were too late to circumvent the politicians. Paul was horrified...we tried hard to arrange a meeting with him and our Agriculture Ministry but it was a closed door. But this was not an end it was a beginning...
He put us straight on the best , indeed only sane strategy to stop FMD. One of the big problems at the time was the sheer volume od information being posted online. The level of misinformation was overwhelming. Paul had a great skill apart from his great technical abilities. He was able to describe quite complicated information clearly and concisely to the layman.
It was his idea that for the future there ought to be a way of accessing information regarding animal health threats / disease that was unimpeachable..absolutely true., easily and directly.
Several more highly convivial meetings followed in the Netherlands with reps from Germany ,France, Belgium. This small group of us became good friends in the process, sharing details about our families, our livestock and our personal philosophies. They were wonderful occasions...with a serious purpose. He was always the life and soul of these meetings.
Ultimately, we decided that we should form an organisation to act as a source of accurate information for animal health threats for general use, for emergencies and for rising threats as a kind of early warning system. So ELQA ( European Livestock Association was born, as a registered charity in NL. Paul and others agreed to be Council Members, who are always on call. The EU even supported us albeit to a small extent by financing our inclusion in an event at the Parliament.
We have not had to organise a major 'call to arms' since FMD in the UK. But we are still there..like 'sleepers' ready to go in to action. But..we have continued keeping in close touch regarding various threats in Europe. I know for sure that Paul took comfort from this.
He will be greatly missed. He will be honoured whenever possible by ELA. We have lost a great friend.
Founder Chairman ELA