Defra loosens virus controls

1 October 2001

Defra loosens virus controls

By Alistair Driver

THE government has relaxed more foot-and-mouth disease controls to make it easier for farmers to move livestock.

Sheep flocks in designated at-risk counties but outside previously infected areas will not now have to be tested before animals can be moved.

The rules came into effect on Monday (1 October) when licences enabling sheep movements in high-risk and at-risk counties became available.

Ministers had previously declared that all flocks in high-risk and at-risk counties would have to be tested before sheep could be moved.

Farmers have also been boosted by the downgrading of some at-risk counties and other authorities to the disease-free status category.

The regions in question include Worcestershire, Gloucester, Bristol, the West Midlands and the southern half of North Yorkshire.

A further relaxation of the rules is expected to come into effect on Monday (8 October) with the introduction of Sole Occupancy Licences.

The licences will replace occupational and local movement licences.

They will allow sheep to be moved without veterinary inspection or testing between parcels of land which are owned or managed by the same farmer.

The 21-day standstill rule will not apply to movements between these premises, which must be within a 20km radius of each other.

Records of all movements must be kept and licences will be issued only after vets have visited the premises to check on biosecurity measures.

The governments foot-and-mouth disease administrator Roy Hathaway said the new rules would give farmers more flexibility.

They will also enable the blood testing to be done more quickly, he added.

Mr Hathaway admitted there had been delays with issuing autumn movement licences in the two weeks since they became available.

But he insisted the situation was improving.

“Trading standards have now processed 10,000 licences and 5000 licences have been issued. There are just 1000 pending,” he said.


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