6 June 2001
Virus threat from culls without vet

By Donald MacPhail

FOOT-AND-MOUTH disease may have spread undetected because livestock have been culled without veterinary supervision, a vet has claimed.

Ministry of Agriculture rules stating that a vet must be present at slaughter have been flouted in parts of North Yorkshire, he told FARMERS WEEKLY.

The vet, who asked not to be named, said it may be impossible to trace the spread of the disease, as no one knows if the slaughtered animals were infected.

Unsupervised culling took place on farms neighbouring existing outbreaks and on premises where stock were classified as dangerous contacts, he claimed.

“This is very serious,” he said. “If you dont know whether the animals are infected, how will you know which area will be infected next?

“You dont know where it is, you cant follow it, you cant plan and cant figure out which way its going.”

The alleged breach of slaughter rules occurred earlier on during the crisis when MAFFs Leeds office had responsibility for culling animals in North Yorkshire.

A spokeswoman for MAFF Leeds office said she had heard nothing to support the allegations and believed staff had adhered to proper procedures.

The vet said farmers had complained that MAFF had been high-handed and refused to work closely with the National Farmers Union and local authorities.

“The feeling on the ground is that MAFFs getting a very negative response from farmers and local populations. Local people feel deserted.”

But a spokesman for the NFU in north-east England insisted that the union and ministry staff had a good working relationship in the area.

The vet said practices had improved since the discovery of a foot-and-mouth cluster in the Settle area in North Yorkshire and in Clitheroe in Lancashire.

Meanwhile, a farmer in West Sussex is waiting to learn if foot-and-mouth movement restrictions placed on his farm are to be lifted.

The farm was placed under Form D restriction after it was visited by a feed lorry previously operating on infected premises in north-west England.

A spokeswoman in MAFFs Reading office said the Form D notice was due to expire on Thursday (07 June), subject to a veterinary inspection.

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