Disease bill reeks of jackboot tactics

1 November 2001

Disease bill reeks of jackboot tactics

By Adrienne Francis

THE unveiling of the governments Animal Health Bill has provoked much discussion throughout the national papers.

New measures will force farmers to comply with ministerial orders to slaughter their livestock to fast track-control of future disease epidemics.

The Guardian describes the new laws as further evidence of government, tightening the screw, against agriculture.

In the paper, Devon pedigree cattle farmer Peter Cave, accuses the government of indulging in jackboot tactics.

He is quoted as saying: This smacks of Nazi law, malicious and spiteful – you bloody well behave or well get you.

Lawyers have also questioned whether the legality of the new measures.

Tim Russ, a partner in a Taunton practice, told the paper arbitrary culling without an appeals procedure could breach European Union law.

The Daily Telegraph labels the changes as, draconian powers, to slaughter animas against the wishes of owners in future outbreaks of disease.

The Financial Times say the new legislation is designed to strengthen ministers hand during the current crisis.

Farmers leaders have backed the proposals, but warned that government has to improve its communication with farmers, it says.

The paper reports Malcolm Bruce, Liberal Democrat agriculture spokesman as saying: We need consultation, not confrontation.

The Times says ministers have been frustrated by delays and stalling tactics employed by some farmers to prevent the slaughter of their animals.

But it concludes that the decision will penalise farmers financially.

Richard Burge, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, told the paper that the proposals are half-baked and evasive.

There was no evidence that farmers had exacerbated the outbreak by their resistance to the slaughter of livestock, he said.

Mr Burge cited enquiries by the National Audit Office and Devon County Council in his defence of farmers.

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