Army to help clear carcass backlog

20 March 2001

Army to help clear carcass backlog

by FWi staff

THE Army is being deployed to help government officials and farmers dispose of a backlog of animals slaughtered in the fight against foot-and-mouth disease

About 150 members of the Preston -based Prince of Wales regiment are expected to arrive in Cumbria over the next two days.

Meanwhile, a team of 130 military police from Bulford, Wiltshire, is expected to move into Devon to help get rid of rotting carcasses.

Two-man teams will be deployed on each infected farm. A 30-strong planning team will remain in Exeter until the crisis is over.

Soldiers will assist only in clearing the backlog of carcasses.

They will not be involved in the cull and are not expected to accompany government officials on to farms while the slaughter takes place.

The crisis is now in its fifth week. Twenty three more cases of foot-and-mouth were announced on Monday (19 March) taking the number of outbreaks to 348.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown has appealed for unity between farmers, saying they should stand together against the disease.

“If there is to be a fight or a war, it should be against the disease and not against each other,” he said.

Most farmers in Cumbria have now reluctantly agreed to requests by chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore that 300,000 sheep must be slaughtered.

Mr Scudamore believes that the apparently healthy animals are harbouring the disease which is particularly difficult to identify in sheep.

But farmers fear the disease is also spreading because it is taking up to a week for animals to be killed after foot-and-mouth is diagnosed.

Many carcasses are then left to rot for days in fields.

Junior agriculture minister Baroness Hayman has said that the cull would be quicker if farmers gave up their legal right to have animals valued while alive.

But Tory leader William Hague and Shadow Agriculture Minister Tim Year are expected to criticise the governments approach as inadequate.

A separate welfare slaughter scheme for thousands of healthy animals trapped in livestock restriction zones is expected to get under way later this week.

Trading standards officials are investigating about 200 alleged incidents of farmers illegally moving livestock in contravention of the restrictions.

Ewes are lambing in mud-covered fields in Devon because it is feared that move livestock in infected areas back to their home farms will spread the disease.

European agriculture ministers meeting in Brussels have agreed that vaccinations may be used to fight the disease if all other attempts fail.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

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