16 May 2001
Election is irrelevant – beef chief

By Robert Davies, Wales correspondent

THE general election is an irrelevance for farmers under enormous pressure from foot-and-mouth, claims the chairman of the National Beef Association.

John Pratt said the foot-and-mouth crisis was not over and resistance was growing to the governments policy of culling animals on farms next to outbreaks.

His comments came as the Ministry of Agriculture applied for a injunction to slaughter animals on a Powys farm next to two holdings with the disease.

Eleanor Lloyd and her son Robert have used a tractor and four-wheel drive vehicle to block the drive to Pentresollars Farm, Bronllys.

They blockaded the farm when a MAFF veterinary surgeon said 600 sheep must be culled even though none of the animals have foot-and-mouth symptoms.

Equipment belonging to contractors involved in the planned cull and lorries to take carcasses away for disposal are parked on a nearby road.

“We have done everything we could to keep out the disease and all our sheep and cattle are healthy,” said Mrs Lloyd.

“We have a completely self-contained flock built up over 20 years.”

She added: “Restocking would be a nightmare and I dont think we would bother to carry on if the slaughter goes ahead.”

A group of sympathetic neighbouring farmers are protesting against the cull on the main road that passes the farm entrance.

Mr Pratt, who is a spokesman for the group as well as being NBA chairman, said 40 flocks had been wiped out because of 11 local cases of foot-and-mouth.

Mick Bates, a farmer and member of the Welsh National Assembly, said veterinary surgeons should think again about culling sheep next to infected units.

Mr Bates is waiting for test results on suspected cases of foot-and-mouth in livestock on his family farm at Llanfair Caereinion in north Powys.

He will lose 50 cattle, 600 ewes and lambs and 120 ewe lambs if the disease is confirmed, but remains worried about 10 farmers with land adjoining his farm.

“The number of sheep on my neighbours farms is massive,” he said.

“There is growing scientific evidence that draconian measures like an automatic cull of contiguous flocks is not necessary.

“Instead there should a thorough assessment of the risk of spread, and slaughter should be used only where there are dangerous contacts.”

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