14 June 2001
Gag lifted on foot-and-mouth farmers

By FWi staff

FARMERS helping out with foot-and-mouth clean-up operations will no longer be prevented from speaking out on the crisis, the Government has announced.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said farmers would not be required to sign part of the Official Secrets Act.

This followed protests from individuals and farming unions that it restricted free speech, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Producers had complained that they could not speak out about the culls, leading to claims that the Government was trying to cover up the true situation.

Meanwhile, the same newspaper reports that the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has called for an investigation into the handling of the crisis.

The college says it is “remarkable” that five to 10 times as many animals have been slaughtered than in 1967, for what is currently a smaller outbreak.

On Wednesday (13 June) it emerged that 10,000 livestock face slaughter after a resurgence of foot-and-mouth disease in farms in Somerset and Devon.

The Army has been recalled to the area to cope with the cull of thousands of animals after a number of cases emerged near Tiverton, Devon.

Four new cases of the disease were confirmed on Wednesday, taking the UK total to 1740.

Two outbreaks were confirmed at Tiverton, Devon and single cases at Wellington in Somerset and Skipton, North Yorkshire.

  • The Daily Telegraph, 14 June, 2001, page 14

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