Possible plans by Cumbria County Council to stop recording vital animal movement data could leave the county unable to tackle disease outbreaks, the NFU warns.
Vital farm animal movement data that is essential in the event of a disease outbreak such as foot-and-mouth may no longer be kept on file by Cumbria County Council if cost-saving proposals are allowed to be implemented.
The NFU have grave concerns the proposals could put the county at risk. “Memories are obviously very short at Cumbria County Council,” said NFU Cumbrian livestock representative Graham Hogg.
“Foot-and-mouth shrank the economy of this county by £266m. Now they are risking that again for the sake of a few quid saved by scrapping the manual inputting of data in the Animal Movement Licensing System.”
By not continuing to invest in this safeguard and adding information to the database, the NFU believes the council is not only jeopardising the agriculture and tourism economy, but is also putting the health and welfare of the county’s livestock at risk.
“Enforcing movement standstills are not enough if up-to-date information is not available on the system to trace the spread of the disease, sort the problem out and then lift the standstill to allow trade,” added Mr Hogg.
There is a legal obligation for the government to record this information. The NFU said it had not been consulted about the council’s decision and urged the council to reject the plans, which were included in the council’s Safer, Stronger and Inclusive Communities Scrutiny Board report on animal health.
Commenting on the proposal, Dominic Harrison, corporate director of Safer and Stronger Communities, said: “We are keen to stress the decision on the administration of animal movements has not yet been made and will be considered by Cabinet on 13 September. Until then we are happy to receive views on the issue from the public and organisations.”