26 April 2001
Relaxation ‘to get farmers to help MAFF’

By Alistair Driver

GOVERNMENT officials say they relaxed their foot-and-mouth slaughter policy so that more farmers would be persuaded to help fight the disease.

To avoid cattle being culled, farmers must show local vets that their animals are kept in healthy conditions and do not pose a risk of catching the virus.

Government chief scientist David King told reporters that the onus was now on farmers to prove that cattle on farms near infected units were healthy.

He said: “We hope that the change in policy will help us get farmer and veterinary co-operation. Farmer co-operation is vital.”

Prof King indicated that he believed resistance among farmers to the extended cull had caused delays to the foot-and-mouth eradication policy.

During a press briefing in London on Thursday (26 April), Prof King said the new policy would not necessarily mean that fewer animals were culled.

He indicated that it will re-direct resources so that more animals on contiguous farms are killed that pose a real risk of spreading the disease.

Chief veterinary office Jim Scudamore told reporters: “We have said from the start that resources have been a problem.”

Both officials denied that the decision had anything to do with Phoenix, a calf which captured the publics imagination

Prof King said he advised the change in policy after “the matter had been discussed between his committee of foot-and-mouth experts”.

Mr Scudamore said the Ministry of Agriculture had come to the same conclusion after recent discussions with veterinary experts over recent weeks.

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Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
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