Arable uncertainty on foot-and-mouth

31 March 2001

Arable uncertainty on foot-and-mouth

By FWi staff
ARABLE farmers are still waiting for official guidance on what they should do to minimise the risk of spreading the foot-and-mouth disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture should have had guidelines for arable growers ready much earlier, said Paul Ibbott, chief arable adviser for the National Farmers Union.

Substantial difficulties with growers not knowing whether they can or can not move machinery have only been avoided so far because of the late season, he said.

“Our advice is to do your very best to minimise movement of materials and equipment that could be a vector for the virus. But what we are not saying is do not do anything.”

Draft MAFF guidelines for arable operations were received by the NFU last week.

They include the advice that if it is necessary to cross a public access route within a 10km radius of an infected holding, the vehicle should be cleaned and disinfected.

The guidelines will be equivalent to a code of practice, said Mr Ibbott.

A breach would substantially weaken a growers defence should an outbreak on a nearby farm be blamed on his or her actions.

Meanwhile, a large-scale Berkshire arable farmer is still in the dark about what fieldwork he may do under restrictions following a precautionary cull of 3000 pigs.

Jonathan Holland, manager at Littlecote Farm Partners and vice-chairman of Newbury NFU, said: “Nothing has been clarified on the arable side.”

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

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