F&Mrow blows up after

31 August 2001

F&Mrow blows up after

MDs Scots farms visit

By FWreporters

FARMERS voiced frustration after the managing director of a company chaired by the man leading a government foot-and-mouth inquiry visited farms now under restriction because of the disease.

Seven Scottish farms were placed under F&M restrictions following a visit north of the Border by John Horncastle, managing director of North Country Primestock. The livestock marketing company is chaired by Sir Don Curry, who is leading the governments Commission into the Future of Farming.

F&M was subsequently confirmed on Mr Horncastles home farm in Allendale, Northumberland, on Aug 26. A statement from North Country Primestock said: "Visits have been strictly limited to those directly concerned with helping farmers maximise their marketing opportunities during these very difficult times."

The visits to Scotland were carried out only at the request of individual farmers, said the statement. All recommended biosecurity measures were taken and the visits to the Scottish farms were made before any new outbreak was suspected in Northumberland, it added.

Mr Horncastle has had all necessary biosecurity measures in place on his farm and has had no day-to-day contact with his livestock, the statement said. "Immediately after the first confirmed case in Allendale on 24 August, Mr Horncastle has remained on his farm," it added.

The resurgence of F&M was first identified in Northumberland at Taylorburn, near Ninebanks, on Aug 24. Divisional veterinary manager Arthur Griffiths said: "Weve picked up a number of older lesions of between four to eight days on several other farms in the Allendale area. However, it is very difficult to be totally precise, as concurrent foot-rot makes it much harder to be accurate. But this does indicate that the virus has probably been present in the area for three weeks."

Northumberland NFU Chairman Malcolm Corbett said he was desperate to trace the start of the outbreak because the implications for the whole country were so serious. He added: "We hope DEFRA can get on top of this outbreak and contain it, similar precautions seemed to work in the Settle area. This is a solid stock area with animals nose to nose over the fences."

NFU Scotland president Jim Walker showed his frustration that Scottish farmers seemed to have dropped their guard in the mistaken belief that F&M was now only a problem in England and Wales. He urged farmers to limit the number of visitors to their farms, especially those from infected areas in England.

Mr Walker warned that the disease could be re-introduced unless farmers started to take biosecurity much more seriously. "We know of people from south of the border tramping around Scottish farms looking at stock in advance of video sales. I would say to everyone, be aware of the risk this poses not only to your own farm but to your neighbours and our whole industry." &#42

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