11 April 2001
‘No confidence’ in MAFF disease action

By Alistair Driver

CONFIDENCE has collapsed in the governments handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis, according a survey showing a dramatic loss of faith.

Some 86% of farmers polled by the National Farm Research Unit said they were dissatisfied with what was being done. Only 10% expressed satisfaction.

The Suffolk-based research company has regularly polled about 2700 farmers from all parts of the country since the outbreak started.

Jim Williams, research company director, said: “Farmers are expressing very strongly their disillusion with the Ministry of Agriculture and other bodies.”

Seven weeks ago, 73% of farmers said they were happy with the eradication policy. By early March satisfaction levels were over 80%.

But farmers began to lose faith with control measures from about 12 March, as the full scale of the epidemic was becoming clear.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown was insisting that the disease was “under control” even as the daily number of outbreaks reached what was then a record level of 25.

But farmers didnt believe him. and satisfaction levels dropped to under 50% for the first time as the crisis continued to spiral.

By 23 March, fewer than 10% of farmers had confidence in the government.

The latest survey, released on Tuesday (10 April), shows 40% of farmers believe the disease should have been spotted and contained more quickly.

Just under 40% of farmers believe there must be quicker and more effective carcass disposal. Ten per cent say all meat imports should be banned.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage