Foot and Mouth: OMSCO under fire for lack of biosecurity

OMSCO have come under fire from organic milk producers for failing to equip their milk tankers with disinfectant three days after the foot-and-mouth outbreak was announced.

Chipping Norton-based farmer Richard Lovat who milks 200 Jerseys told FWi he was appalled that an OMSCO tanker arrived to collect milk from his herd today without any disinfectant available.

“I’ve got disinfectant at the gate and have ensured the tanker was clean before it came onto the unit, but according to the driver only one other farmer of the four he’d already collected from had asked him to disinfect.”

Mr Lovat said he had spoken to OMSCO, but was told their team was meeting this morning to discuss the matter and would issue guidance following that meeting. “It’s disgraceful they had no contingency plan in place for this, particularly as the lorry in question had been to Kent and Sussex yesterday.”

OMSCO, however, denied they were acting irresponsibly and were following DEFRA guidelines and carrying out exactly the same measures as other milk buyers.

The cooperative’s Richard Hampson told FWi that the tanker in question had not in fact been operating in the south east last weekend and was being equipped with disinfectant as OMSCO felt appropriate. “Our vehicles are being equipped on a priority basis starting in the east and moving west.”

When challenged as to why OMSCO tankers didn’t carry disinfectant as a matter of routine to prevent any disease transfer between farms Mr Hampson said it wasn’t OMSCO policy to do so. “There may be strong arguments for undertaking such measures, but I believe there are equally strong arguments against it.”

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