12 April 2001
Tesco backs livestock scheme

By FWi staff

BRITAINS biggest supermarket has backed a new scheme to allow healthy animals from areas infected with foot-and-mouth into the food chain.

A spokesman for Tesco said the company was working with the Ministry of Agriculture on government proposals to get the initiative up and running.

He told FARMERS WEEKLY: “Based on what MAFF has already said, we are generally supportive. We recognise the problems farmers have had.”

The British Retail Consortium, which represents 90% of the British retail trade, also welcomed the prospect of a increased supply of British meat.

The retailers comments will be welcomed by many livestock producers who have been unable to sell their animals for the past few weeks.

The scheme will allow up to 70,000 prime cattle, 900,000 sheep and 336,000 pigs in infected areas to be moved under licence to slaughter from 23 April.

Abattoirs have also welcomed the scheme, which will see healthy animals from 2098 farms free of foot-and-mouth enter the food chain.

John Dracup, procurement manager for St Merryn Meat, confirmed that his company intends to process meat under the scheme at its North Devon plant.

Bosses believe it will be positive step to start taking healthy cattle, sheep and pigs from infected areas as quickly as possible, Mr Dracup said.

“It will help alleviate financial pressures and welfare problems,” he added.

The scheme is good news for farmers caught up in the 10km surveillance zones. But farmers within 3km of a confirmed case will not be able to take part.

The National Farmers Union said it would be a massive help in alleviating the bottleneck of pressure built up in areas affected by the disease.

NFU president Ben Gill welcomed the proposals, which came as the government eased restrictions around some of the earliest infected farms.

“The pressure on farmers in restricted areas has been intolerable, and this will take a bit of the weight off their shoulders,” he said.

But there still needed to be urgent improvements to the systems currently in place to deal with the welfare problem of animals trapped on or away from farms.

“The scheme to slaughter animals for welfare reasons is bursting at the seams,” said Mr Gill, saying that calls for improvements had not been heeded.

“It must not be forgotten that the situation on the ground is still appalling.”

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