7 March 2001
Brussels extends British export ban

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

BRUSSELS has extended its ban on exports of British animals, fresh meat and meat products, milk and milk products by two weeks until 27 March.

The European Standing Veterinary Committee also slapped a two-week ban on all livestock markets and fairs throughout the European Union.

The ban affects susceptible species, such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer.

A two-week movement ban has also been imposed throughout the 15 EU member states, except for animals going direct to slaughter.

Some farm-to-farm transfers may be allowed, subject to authorisation, though 24 hours notice will be required if this involves cross-border trade.

Farmers organisations generally welcomed the moves, even though as yet there has been no confirmed case of foot-and-mouth disease on the Continent.

“We respect all measures put in place to block the spread of this disease,” said a spokesman for the European farmers organisation COPA.

However, the National Farmers Union of England and Wales said it was surprised the vets had taken such drastic action.

“We were not expecting it,” said NFU head of commodities, Simon Lunnis. “But we support responsible action to eradicate the disease.”

The exact implications for UK farmers have yet to be confirmed.

But the extension of the ban is likely to trigger an automatic extension of the movement restriction orders which were due to expire on 16 March.

The vets said they “strongly appreciated” British measures to contain foot-and-mouth and congratulated other member states for their rapid response.

But they advised against the use of vaccines as a further means of control, believing that the current mechanisms in the UK would be effective.

There were also significant cost and trade implications.

The vets did, however, recommend that all vehicles entering other member states from the UK should have their tyres disinfected.

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