21 June 2001
Foot-and-mouth controls relaxed

By Donald MacPhail

FOOT-AND-MOUTH movement restrictions are being eased to allow farmers in Infected Areas to send livestock to abattoirs further afield.

Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural, announced that controls would be relaxed from Friday (22 June).

Mrs Beckett was setting out the governments continuing response to the foot-and-mouth epidemic to the new House of Commons.

Livestock in Infected Areas can move, under licence, for slaughter in abattoirs outside the area in a move to enable more normal trade, she said.

Farmers in Infected Areas have been pushing for this as they could only trade within these areas, limiting outlets for stock.

This news was welcomed by National Farmers Union president Ben Gill.

“We are grateful that DEFRA has acknowledged the need to ensure facilities mirror the industrys needs as the number of infected areas shrink.”

Mrs Beckett also announced moves to ease controls on the movement of cattle and pigs for welfare reasons.

Cattle and pigs At Risk Areas will be permitted to move, under licence, into Provisionally Free Areas, on welfare grounds.

Welfare movements of cattle and pigs from one Provisionally Free Area to another will also be permitted.

Vets had said it was still too risky to extend this to sheep, said Mrs Beckett.

Mrs Beckett also said it was vital to reopen footpaths wherever possible and criticised some authorities for keeping them closed without good reason.

She announced that DEFRA was looking to see if it can revoke the remaining blanket closures of paths in the near future.

She warned that outbreaks would continue in some parts of the country for some time and stressed the importance of biosecurity on farms.

“So it is hugely important that no-one relaxes their guard.”

The Secretary of State reiterated that while rendering was the preferred option for carcass disposal, licensed landfills and mass burial sites may still have to be used.

“There are no easy options for disposal and if the circumstances arise, we must be prepared to utilise the national assets we have, including burial sites.

To date there had been in total 1771 confirmed cases of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom.

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