18 March 2001
Foot-and-mouth cull may be extended
by James Garner
THE government may extend its mass cull of healthy sheep and pigs to other parts of the country in an effort to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.
The policy of killing all healthy sheep and pigs within 3km of infected farms is currently limited to Cumbria and Scotland where the bulk of the disease is located.
But agriculture minister Nick Brown said he could not rule out the enforced cull of sheep and pigs being extended to south-west England.
“I am not ruling this out in Devon,” he said on Sunday (18 March).
“If the spread of the disease changes and cannot be contained then we may have to introduce a cull like that in Dumfries and Galloway and Cumbria.”
The disease is clustered in regions, with the worst affected being Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway with 122 cases, where the cull will be enforced.
Mr Brown said the cull was based on veterinary advice and hoped farmers would understand once the science behind it had been explained.
“It is unhelpful for people not to fully co-operate we should be concentrating on fighting the disease. Our measures will work best if there is a consensus.
“These steps are being taken to help the livestock industry and farmers.”
Chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore said there were now more than 300 cases of foot-and-mouth. A further 100 suspected cases are being investigated.
“Cumbria is a heavily seeded county with a lot of infected farms. The 3km zones are running together,” said Mr Scudamore.
Mr Scudamore will visit farmers in the region on Monday (19 March) to explain why the mass cull must go ahead to stem the spread of the disease.
Mr Brown will meet stricken farmers later in the week.
He is presently negotiation a compensation package with culture minister Chris Smith, environment minister Michael Meacher, and farmers leaders.
Mr Brown said he would also be investigating the possibility of aid with European Union farm commissioner Franz Fischler early next week.
Further funds might be pulled down from the Common Agricultural Policy, said Mr Brown, but he declined to elaborate further on the matter.