19 July 2002

Farmers must strengthen links with their vets

FARMERS should be asked to submit the name of their veterinary surgeon and a copy of an approved health plan to DEFRA each year, according to the Royal Societys report into infectious diseases in livestock.

The report, one of the three commissioned last year after foot-and-mouth, looked at the scientific aspects of transmission, prevention and control of disease outbreaks.

It was published on Tuesday (July 16) and contained recommendations which indicate contingency plans and biosecurity measures need to be improved.

The report suggested the links between farmers and their vets needed to be strengthened to improve on-farm surveillance.

"The centre of surveillance lies with the livestock farmer/ owner aided by their veterinary practice," it said.

"From all the evidence we received and the meetings and visits we held, we became convinced that the scale of interactions between farmers and veterinarian has diminished significantly and is affecting all aspects of animal health."

It recommended that all keepers of livestock were properly registered and submitted health plans, drawn up with their vets, to the authorities each year.

In line with existing contingency plans the report suggested strict local movement restrictions should be introduced on suspicion of a disease case. This should be extended to a national ban if the case was confirmed.

But in addition it said a 72-hour total ban should be imposed on movements on or off farms in a 10km zone surrounding an infected premises. This would include all feed lorries, milk tankers and all people, except those on emergency calls. &#42