Foot and Mouth disease has been confirmed in cattle on a farm in Surrey.

Debby Reynolds, the UK chief veterinary officer, confirmed a three-kilometre protection zone has been put in place around the farm along with a 10km surveillance zone, and a UK-wide ban imposed on all movements of ruminants and pigs.

FWi has learned that the farm is beef finishing unit across two grazing units. All the cattle on the farm will be culled.

A vet was called yesterday afternoon to inspect three suspected animals which did not display any visible symptoms but were described as being off their food.

There are seven other farms near to the outbreak.

Speaking tonight to FWi, Meurig Raymond, deputy president of the National Farmers Union said:

“This is not good news for the industry and we are all extremely concerned.

“We understand it is a beef farm – a fattening unit, which suggests that it can be contained and the source traced.

“I hope that the movement records available can nip it in the bud but as yet we do not know where it came from.

Peter Kendall [NFU president] has already spoken to Hilary Benn [DEFRA secretary] in Italy who is returning from his holiday as is Gordon Brown from his holiday in Dorset.

“We just hope it is an isolated case and the lessons learned from 2001 outbreak are put in place.”

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Mr Kendall added: “We want to avoid the memories of 2001. I know there are shows across the country but we are convinced that this is a situation we should contain at all costs.

 

“While we are seeking to understand the source and spread of the disease, we must maintain all restrictions currently in place.

 

He supported the position taken by DEFRA and urged all those concerned to follow advice available on the DEFRA website.

 

Foot and Mouth exclusion zone map

 

CLA president David Fursdon described the news as a “horrible sense of deja vue”.

 

“It’s ultimately another nail in the coffin for livestock farmers following the recent weather,” he told FWi.

 

“We hope that there are lessons learned from the previous epidemic and that there are no long-term implications for the market.

 

“We hope this is a source that can be shut down early.” 

 

Mr Fursdon said he hoped the report from the 2001 outbreak would not remain on the shelf this time as had been the case in 2001 when the learning from the 1960s outbreak was ignored.

 

“We hope this time it’s fresh enough in the memory that the same mistakes are avoided.”

 

Mr Fursdon said he had already spoken to agriculture minister Lord Rooker and confirmed the two would be in contact in the morning.

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Response from the Liberal Democrats


Commenting on the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Surrey, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Chris Huhne MP said:


“The ban on cattle and pig movements is welcome, but it is better to be safe than sorry and it should cover all animal movements not just in England but UK-wide. We need confirmation that the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales are acting too.


“Foot and mouth devastated the rural economy when it broke out in 2001 and we must take every possible action to avoid a recurrence, including if necessary Dutch-style vaccination in the surrounding herds. This has to be undertaken urgently.


“The Government is right to put Cobra into action, and it is good that Gordon Brown and Hilary Benn seem to understand the seriousness of the threat.


“There will be a chill sent down the spines of every livestock farmer in the country at the news, and there will be real fears in many other rural businesses like hotels, pubs and bed and breakfasts just as the peak holiday season is getting under way.”

More as we get it…