Nearly 2500 farmers have so far signed a petition to the Prime Minister asking for financial compensation for all the farmers suffering financial losses as a result of foot-and-mouth movement restrictions.
The petition, on the Number 10 Downing Street website, says farmers need compensation as the outbreak is as a consequence of the lapse in biosecurity at the government’s own laboratory at Pirbright in August 2007.
The initiative is being promoted by the Women’s Food and Farming Union.
The petition’s creator, Prue Young, said: “Farmers now have to be accountable for movements of their livestock through animal passports and every beast is traceable within the system.
“But current movement restrictions are having catastrophic effects on farmers’ incomes as the animals can not be sent to livestock sales where most of their annual income is accrued and there is no market price at the slaughterhouses.
“If the F&M outbreak continues to cause movement restrictions, there will possibly be a shortage of lambs born in the spring, which will further deplete the incomes of farmers, as well as causing shortages to the consumer.
“Many farmers may go bankrupt without coming any where near an infected animal.
“The current outbreak was due to incompetence at a government lab and the farmers are blameless – they should not be the ones to suffer; the government should be held to account and made to compensate those who are suffering through no fault of their own.
“The government has provided £3bn of public funds to Northern Rock to rescue it from the consequences of its own management’s mistakes; the farming community needs similar support to deal with a situation for which they are not in any way responsible.”