28 August 2001
Foot-and-mouth restrictions relaxed
By FWi staff
MINISTERS have relaxed foot-and-mouth restrictions so animals can be moved under strict conditions within counties according to disease risk status.
The changes are aimed to avert a welfare crisis in the autumn, if animals were forced to remain where they are, said food and farming minister Lord Whitty.
But there are no plans to restart live auctions in England and Wales.
The decision to change the movement rules comes despite the number of cases in Northumberland climbing to 13 on Tuesday (28 August).
Ministers have produced a chart that summarises the movements which farmers will be able to make this autumn.
It lists counties to and from which animals will be able to be moved. Movements between different high-risk areas or into infected areas are excluded
Farmers wanting to take advantage of the new arrangements will have to meet tighter rules than previously in place including some blood testing of sheep.
But the National Farmers union has already criticised the new arrangements claiming they will be a further blow to the confidence of producers.
NFU deputy president Tim Bennett said the union was particularly concerned about farmers in infected counties who would be put in an untenable position.
Farmers accept that the priority must be to prevent any further spread of the disease, particularly in light of developments in Northumberland.
But some of these producers have had their animals on their farms for six months and are at their wits end, he said.
Mr Bennett said he was also disappointed that the government had indicated that markets for live cattle and sheep would not be started for some time.
He added: I am also particularly concerned about the sudden inclusion in the package of a requirement to identify individual sheep.
We will be holding further urgent discussions with [government] officials on the issue during the next few days.
- Scots virus scare after English visit, FWi, 28 August, 2001
- Probe into farm virus resurgence, FWi, 21 August 2001
- Virus returns to haunt north-east, FWi, 24 August 2001