27 November 2001
Relief as virus rules ease

By FWi staff

FARMERS have expressed their relief at the relaxation of foot-and-mouth restrictions in counties which were at the heart of the epidemic.

Lancashire, Devon and Herefordshire were granted declared disease-free by government officials on Tuesday (27 November).

The re-designation of Devon to disease-free status has lifted “a long, dark shadow”, said National Farmers Union south west director Anthony Gibson.

South Devon pig farmers Colin and Vanessa Mills said the change would enable them to continue supplying regular buyers in Wiltshire.

A backlog of 600 weaners has built up since restrictions were introduced in February. Farmers will be able to send cull sows out of the county again.

David Norman, who has farmland in Devon and Somerset, said he has had hundreds of ewes and lambs “stranded” on rented land in Devon.

Freeing up Devon means they can taken home to the farm in Somerset.

David Maunder of Devon abattoir Lloyd Maunder warned that the impact of potential exports on lamb prices might not be seen immediately.

He said the “clear” status for Devon still has to be ratified by the European Unions standing veterinary committee in early December.

“In the meantime we will be going through the procedures to satisfy local and regional vets that we are ready to start exporting,” he said.

“It is not going to be just a piece of cake.”

Lancashire NFU said the lifting of the countys disease free status will allow much-needed animal trade with the rest of the country.

County chairman Ken Baxter said the move was a “great relief” and predicted that the north-west had seen the last of the virus.

Cumbria is still classified as high risk and will not be declared disease until the end of December at the earliest.

But north-west NFU policy adviser Veronica Waller said things were looking better for Cumbrian farmers after some rules were relaxed.

Farmers in Cumbria can now bring cattle and sheep into the county from disease free and at risk counties.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage
Recovery plan – Full coverage