Key criticisms of the way DEFRA has handled the current foot and mouth outbreak have been addressed in a new question and answer briefing document released to its website.
The note covers issues raised by the farming community such as why the carcasses have been transported to Frome for disposal and why producers in England and Wales have not been given a derogation to bury fallen stock.
The document, which is in the form of questions and answers, was released on the DEFRA site on Wednesday (8 August).
On the issue of why culled animals being incinerated in Somerset, DEFRA said the incinerator was chosen as it was the nearest plant that had the necessary capacity and biosecurity measures in place to deal with a case of this kind in the required timescale.
“There is one closer incinerator (much smaller capacity) but there are susceptible livestock on the premises. The next nearest facility is a rendering plant in Kent but that is closed due to a breakdown/maintenance.
“Wessex is the next nearest disposal facility. Other plants, including fixed and mobile plants, were not considered to be able to meet the necessary requirements.”
On the subject of fallen stock the document suggests that DEFRA did not announce what he arrangement were sooner because the priority had to be getting the disease under control.
Here are some more extracts:
What is the current situation with fallen stock?
DEFRA has announced that from 00:01 on 9 August 2007 that farmers will be able to arrange for the removal of carcases of FMD susceptible animals from their premises in the Restricted Zone in England. This follows a similar announcement yesterday by the Welsh Assembly Government. Provided both licenses are adhered to registered collectors are now permitted to conduct cross border journeys either to pick up carcases or to transport them to an appropriately approved disposal facility. Arrangements for removal of fallen stock in the surveillance and protection zones remain under consideration.
The first priority in a FMD outbreak is to prevent the further spread of disease, and a rapid and rigid application of animal movements restrictions is vital. It is now important to allow the resumption of movements of carcases of FMD susceptible animals both to minimise the risk of other diseases and to allow the resumption of TSE testing on the carcases of older cattle. DEFRA has therefore issued a general licence for the Restricted Zones to allow carcases of fallen stock to be moved to appropriate disposal premises. It is still vital that appropriate biosecurity protocols are followed to ensure that the risk of FMD transmission is not increased by these movements and each of the licences therefore specifies conditions which must be met.
What should farmers do?
Collections of fallen stock from National Fallen Stock Company Ltd (NFSCo) members will take place under the National Fallen Stock Scheme (NFSS). Members are asked to contact their usual NFSS collector to arrange for collections of carcases.
Farmers who are not members of the Scheme should phone the National Fallen Stock Scheme helpline on 0845 054 8888 for details of registered collectors operating in their area and may also go to www.nfsco.co.uk and follow the links to find details of existing NFSS collectors operating in their area. Collection of payment from non-members of NFSCo will be the responsibility of the collector i.e. not via the NFSS payment system. However, to enable movement records to be maintained it will be mandatory for NFSS receipts to be utilised to facilitate traceability.
What about fallen stock collectors?
Collectors who are not currently engaged by the NFSCo or Rural Payments Agency (RPA) may register to collect fallen stock during this period by contacting Jason King on 020 7904 6246 who will where necessary arrange for the appropriate checks to be carried out and advise on any necessary biosecurity arrangements.
Why is this happening now? Why has it not happened earlier?
The first priority in a FMD outbreak is to prevent the further spread of disease, and a rapid and rigid application of animal movements restrictions is vital. It is now important to allow the resumption of movements of carcases of FMD susceptible animals both to minimise the risk of other diseases and to allow the resumption of TSE testing on the carcases of older cattle. We still need to ensure that the risk of transmission of FMD is minimised, but we are confident that collectors and farmers can maintain the standards of biosecurity necessary and set out in the general licences.
Why is it only collectors registered with the National Fallen Stock Company or the Rural Payments Agency that are allowed to collect fallen stock?
It is necessary to ensure that the risk of transmission of FMD is minimised. Both the National Fallen Stock Company and the Rural Payments Agency are able to provide assurance that necessary standards of biosecurity set out in the general licences are met. Other collectors who can meet the standards may register to collect fallen stock by contacting Jason King at the National Fallen Stock Company on telephone number 020 7904 6246.
Why do farmers have to move carcases to the edge of their premises? Isn’t this going to be very difficult in some circumstances, for example where bodies have started to decompose?
This is necessary to minimise the risk of vehicles becoming contaminated and spreading the FMD virus. If necessary farmers should attempt to bag and contain a body that is at risk of fragmentation before moving it to the edge of their premises.
Can I harvest hay and straw?
Yes. There are no restrictions on harvesting hay and straw anywhere in Great Britain.
Can I move or sell straw and hay?
In some cases, no. Fodder (including straw and hay) cannot be moved to premises in the Protection Zone unless under license. Also, there are restrictions on the movement for sale on hay and straw in the Protection Zone. This means that you cannot move hay or straw for sale unless it has been produced a minimum of 21 days before the earliest infection date, or it was produced on premises without susceptible animals, or is treated. For more information, please contact your local Animal Health office.
Can I spread manure?
Manure cannot be spread in the protection zone or surveillance zone unless you have a license, and certain conditions apply. Currently no licenses are being produced to allow manure to be spread within the zones.
For the latest on the outbreak see FWi’s Special Report page.
Click here for the full Q and A briefing.