15 March 2001
Brown unveils mass slaughter

By Johann Tasker

HUNDREDS of thousands of animals within 3km (1.86 miles) of all British farms infected with foot-and-mouth disease are to be killed.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown made the announcement in the House of Commons on Thursday (15 March).

“We must still ensure that infected animals are removed as quickly as possible and in order to do this it will be necessary to destroy animals within the 3km zones on a precautionary basis.”

In Scotland, 200,000 sheep – equivalent to 1% of the Scottish flock – will be shot on farms, mainly around the towns of Canonbie and Lockerbie.

The same strategy will be adopted for England and Wales. Foot-and-mouth disease is concentrated on farms in Northumberland, Cumbria, Devon and Powys.

Mr Brown said there was also clear evidence that sheep from markets in Welshpool, Northampton, and Longtown had been exposed to foot-and-mouth.

A number of flocks into which those sheep were imported may be infected and will also have to be shot, said Mr Brown.

The same approach will be taken to sheep handled by two unnamed livestock dealers who have been associated with movements of infected sheep, he said.

Mr Brown said he would consider modifying restrictions in disease-free areas provided that ,those areas remain clean over the next seven to 10 days.

The minister said he was deeply conscious of animal welfare problems posed by livestock movement restrictions put in place to control foot-and-mouth.

Details of a scheme for moving livestock, including pregnant ewes ready for lambing, are due to be published later on Tuesday (15 March).

“The general principle will be that animals can be moved within a presently controlled area, or within the currently disease-free areas, and into an area of higher disease risk, but not the other way,” said Mr Brown.

“It is my intention that farmers will be able to apply for licences over the weekend.”

Farmers will be compensated if they choose to shoot animals which cannot be moved because of their condition or because they are in infected areas.

Payments will be made for such animals on the lines of the welfare disposal scheme adopted during last years swine-fever outbreak in East Anglia.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage