5 November 2001
Consult us on animal Bill – beef men

By Alistair Driver

BEEF producers are accusing the government of trying to rush through laws to deal with future disease outbreaks without proper consultation.

A proposed Animal Health Bill would force farmers to comply with orders to cull livestock in the event of another foot-and-mouth epidemic.

The National Beef Association said it supported culling infected stock. But killing too many animals would create problems, it added.

“It can produce queues that block the disposal and encourage disease spread,” said NBA vice-chairman Keith Redpath.

“The NBA would have been much happier if the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had talked to livestock farmers.

Mr Redpath said the Bill should have included more detail on identifying animals for contiguous culling and keeping wasteful killing to a minimum.

And he criticised the publication of the Bill ahead of two foot-and-mouth inquiries that will recommend how to tackle future outbreaks.

The government should have waited until the conclusions of the inquiries before publishing a Bill containing rules that will cover the next epidemic.

The NBA has also responded to recent comments by chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore about the role of livestock markets in the epidemic.

Mr Scudamore, who blamed auctions for spreading the disease, confirmed an “animal health reform agenda” within Defra, claim NBA leaders

NBA chairman Robert Robinson said the government wanted to curtail auction markets and make a 21-day livestock movement limit permanent.

“It is clear that Defra is trying to deflect criticism of its failure by blaming others for its shortcomings,” he said.