Farmers breach livestock regulations

20 March 2001

Farmers breach livestock regulations

By John Burns in Exeter

TRADING standards officials are investigating some 200 reports of breaches in livestock restrictions designed to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

Some allegations refer to the illegal use of footpaths temporarily closed to prevent disease spreading. Other reports are of illegal movements of livestock.

Legal movement of livestock is virtually impossible in many parts of Devon because of restrictions, especially on pig farms and where lambing is in progress.

A spokesman for Devon trading standards department said the cases would definitely end up in court where evidence of breaches was uncovered.

Ben Bennett, head of the Ministry of Agricultures veterinary Devon team, said restrictions would stay in place to stop the disease spreading.

He accepted there were some serious welfare problems and voiced sympathy for the farmers involved but refused to consider easing the restrictions.

Anthony Gibson, south west regional director for the National Farmers Union, said a way must be found to help farmers facing welfare problems.

Farmers night be forced to break the law to move overcrowded livestock to fields where there was more grass and space, and less mud, said Mr Gibson.

Pig farmers were facing an especially difficult situation, he added.

Mr Gibson also said that criticism of the Devon MAFF team by the countys NFU chairman David Hill were not shared by the NFU establishment.

They believed the MAFF team was working very hard indeed.

Mr Bennett also rejected the charges against himself and his team and said some of them had been very hurt by Mr Hills comments.

Nineteen extra vets and 30 final year vet students started work today with the Devon MAFF team taking the total to 128 plus the students.

In the three weeks to last Saturday his team had made 1300 farm inspections.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

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