14 May 2001
Intervention Board ‘broke disease rules’

By John Burns, south-west England correspondent

TRADING standards officials are investigating a government agency which allegedly breached foot-and-mouth restrictions by moving hundreds of animals.

The Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed that the Intervention Board had moved 120 live pigs from a farm in an infected area of east Devon last week.

More than 400 sheep and pigs were moved by the Intervention Board in a similar incident three days later, FARMERS WEEKLY has learned.

Devon Trading Standards, which last week successfully prosecuted a farmer for illegally moving livestock, confirmed it was investigating the incidents.

East Devon has no abattoir registered to cull livestock under a disposal scheme for animals suffering problems due to disease restrictions.

In such a situation, scheme rules state that pigs should be slaughtered on farms and then taken to a landfill site for disposal.

Instead, 120 live pigs taken from a farm through a disease-free area and to an abattoir belonging to West Devon Meat at Hatherleigh on 08 May.

MAFFs confirmation that the movement of the pigs should not have taken place came in reply to a letter from local farmer Robert Persey.

Mr Persey, a representative for the National Pig Association, had asked why the Intervention Board could move pigs when farmers could not.

The second allegedly illegal movement of pigs and sheep by the Intervention Board took place from the same east Devon infected area on 10 May.

That incident involved the movement of 100 pigs and 319 sheep which were also taken through a disease-free area to West Devon Meat.

It is understood 12 animals considered unfit to travel were left behind to be killed later on the farm in question.

An Intervention Board spokeswoman said: “These cases are due to an administrative error which we deeply regret.

“We will be enhancing our procedures for licensing and moving animals under the welfare disposal scheme to make sure this does not happen again.”

The spokeswoman admitted that the Intervention Board issued its own movement licences which were then checked by veterinary inspectors.

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