12 April 1996

Calls for selective slaughter rejected by livestock industry

By Shelley Wright

EUROPES demand for the UK to introduce a selective slaughter scheme for BSE-affected cattle herds has been rejected by the livestock industry as totally unacceptable.

Last weeks emergency meeting of farm ministers in Luxembourg agreed to the UKs plan to remove animals over 30 months from the human food chain.

But further action was needed if the EU was to consider lifting the ban on British beef. Farm minister Douglas Hogg was given until the end of April to propose details for a selective cull.

Mr Hogg later said he would consult with farming organisations but that any slaughter scheme would have to be practical and cost-effective.

"What is not justified is a wholesale slaughter of herds which may, to some small degree, have been affected by BSE. Should we contemplate such a policy we must be clear, according to the scientific facts, that what we were doing was justified," he said.

But NFU leader Sir David Naish told Prime Minister John Major last week that the idea of a slaughter policy was extremely distressing for farmers who had worked hard over many years to build up their herds.

The NFU was convinced that a cull was unnecessary. Sir David told Mr Major that he would strongly oppose any plans to remove herds because there was no scientific justification for such a move.

"Before even giving consideration to such a plan we would want to see hard evidence that any such action would drastically reduce the number of BSE cases in this country," he said.

The total number of confirmed cases in the UK is 159,320. Some EU countries want Britain to cull all herds where there has been more than one case, which would involve more than 33,200 farms. Of the herds 35% have only had one case of BSE while almost 90% of affected farms have had fewer than 10 cases.

The Farmers Union of Wales, Country Landowners Association and the Livestock Industry Support Trust are also vehemently opposed to any selective cull.


Confirmed BSE cases in the UK: total confirmed cases 159,320

Number of casesNumber offarms

1-1029,599

11-202,607

21-30704

31-40225

41-5089

51-6031

61-7012

71-805

81-903

91-1001

Over 1012

Source: MAFF