3 May 2001
Brown bans swill, controls imports

By Isabel Davies

AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown has announced a relaxation of foot-and-mouth restrictions and measures to prevent another outbreak.

To ease problems for farmers within control areas, vets will be given more discretion to allow producers to move stock to slaughter or on welfare grounds.

And in a bid to stop another outbreak occurring, there will be a pig swill ban and tighter controls on meat imports.

Mr Brown addressed the House of Commons after Tony Blair said Britain was now “in the home straight” in the battle to eradicate the disease.

The agriculture minister announced that controls would be relaxed to allow farmers within 3km of disease case to send healthy animals for slaughter.

Vets will be given powers to issue licences for healthy stock to be moved to slaughter for human consumption “after a period of time,” he said.

Farmers wanting to take advantage of the new arrangements should contact their local animal health office, he said.

Mr Brown also announced changes to help farmers encountering welfare problems because they cannot move animals across roads to fresh grazing.

“I propose to ask veterinary staff to examine these problems on a case by case basis and to permit movements on farms providing the fight against foot and mouth disease is not compromised,” he said.

The change will be introduced by the middle of next week at the latest.

From 24 May it will be illegal to feed catering waste which has been in contact with meat as swill, widely believed to be the source of the outbreak

Mr Brown said the Food Standards Agency had asked authorities to make a check for illegal imports in routine inspections of food premises.

A programme of visits to ports and airports has already been undertaken by the FSA to examine the effectiveness of controls, he said.

The minister also said the government had improved arrangements for the pooling of information about known or suspected illegal imports.

And a publicity campaign is planned to make sure that travellers know what restrictions were in place on bringing meat into the UK.

But shadow farm minister Tim Yeo said that in many parts of Britain the crisis was far from over.

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