Government relaxes autumn restrictions

5 October 2001

Government relaxes autumn restrictions

By Alistair Driver

THE government has relaxed autumn movement restrictions after intense farmer pressure.

Changes to foot-and-mouth controls were made after farming organisations complained that the original rules created unmanageable welfare and husbandry problems.

From Monday, Oct 8, sole occupancy licences can be obtained allowing freer movement of animals between parcels of land owned or managed by the same farmer.

Under the scheme, movements will not require prior veterinary inspection or blood testing and animals may be moved more than once within 21 days. Premises must be within a 20km radius and in counties with the same disease status and licences will only be issued after vets have checked biosecurity arrangements.

In another change, sheep from flocks in at-risk counties but outside previously infected areas can now be moved without being tested. This came into effect from Monday, Oct 1, when licences to move sheep in high-risk and at-risk counties became available. It was going to be necessary for all flocks in these counties to be tested.

On the same day a number of counties and local authorities – including Worcs, Staffs, Glos, and parts of North Yorks and the West Midlands – were granted disease-free status. Changes linking small authorities to larger counties to enable more movement have also been made.

From December a further relaxation will allow sheep moved in the autumn to return to their original holding.

The government claims these changes will reduce the demand for blood testing by about 20-30% and reduce delays in issuing licences. It admitted that sticking to the original rules could have led to delays of between seven to 12 weeks in some cases. &#42

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