Cautious optimism from Gill

29 March 2001

Cautious optimism from Gill

By FWi staff

GOVERNMENT efforts to speed up the slaughter of animals on farms with foot-and-mouth are paying off, claims the National Farmers Union.

Ministers want no more than 24 hours to elapse between identification and slaughter of infected animals, and 48 hours for neighbouring farms.

Emerging from a meeting with Tony Blair on Thursday (29 March), NFU president Ben Gill said this strategy was now eating into the backlog of confirmed cases in many areas.

On Wednesday (28 March) 34,000 animals were slaughtered from farms confirmed as having the disease, exceeding the 27,000 new animals identified.

This does not include “dangerous contacts” – animals rated as having links with infected farms – or animals on neighbouring farms which are still waiting to be culled.

“There are some encouraging signs but we are still in a very, very serious situation,” said Mr Gill.

He said ministers must consult locally and decide quickly whether to create firebreaks by vaccinating in heavily-infected Cumbria.

“If it is used, it will merely buy us time and dampen down the infection in key areas – but that may be exactly what we need until such time as the animals can be slaughtered,” said Mr Gill.

Farmers Union of Wales president Bob Parry told Mr Blair that he did not think vaccination was the best way to eliminate the disease.

“Following a lengthy discussion, I still firmly believe that there are too many problems associated with vaccination to make it a plausible alternative to culling,” said Mr Parry.

“Vaccination must only be used as a very last resort when all other alternatives have been exhausted,” he added.

Mr Parry warned that milk from vaccinated cattle could not be sold unless subjected to Ultra Heat Treatment (UHT) first, and would lengthen export bans.

Ulster Farmers Union president Douglas Rowe said he felt the Prime Minister was fully engaged in defeating the epidemic.

The UFU says the situation is clearly different in Northern Ireland, where there has been only one outbreak, and Mr Blair supports efforts to secure separate status.

By 14.00 on Thursday, 742 cases of foot-and-mouth had been confirmed in the UK.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

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