Compulsory license

12 October 2001

Compulsory license

THE RSPCA has said it regards compulsory licensing of all livestock farms to be one of the key lessons to be learned from the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

At a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool, David Bowles, head of the RSPCAs international department, said existing licensing arrangements should be extended to the farm sector.

Mr Bowles said it seemed crazy that riding schools had to be licensed but farming – which was a much bigger industry- did not.

"We are not saying that farmers do not know what they are doing. Of course most farmers are very good. Therefore they will have nothing to fear from a licensing system where they have to apply certain standards.

Foot-and-mouth had shown there was a "black hole" in terms of knowing the location and movement of farm animals and this had helped to exacerbate the disease.

"If we had farm licensing then hopefully that would plug that hole, "he said.

The idea of licensing livestock producers is believed to be gaining favour within government. Cheshire-based vet Chris Lewis revealed at the British Vet Association Congress last week that the Sheep Vet Society has already had meetings with DEFRA about such a scheme.

"Licensing may include the requirement for a herd health plan which is at least agreed by a vet," he told delegates attending the event in Winchester.

But Baroness Byford, the conservatives spokeswoman on agriculture in the House of Lords, told FARMERS WEEKLY she would be cautious about supporting the idea of licensing farms.

"Id actually have reservations on it because I think there are practical difficulties with it. I think there are many questions that need to be clarified by the RSPCA before you could actually say yes its a good idea." &#42

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