16 March 2001
Low compensation for welfare cull
by Alistair Driver
FARMERS will receive less than the full value for animals entered into a slaughter scheme to alleviate welfare problems caused by foot-and-mouth disease.
Agriculture minister Nick Brown has indicated that compensation paid by the government will amount to about 70% of the market value for livestock.
The scheme aims to ease over-crowding where farm animals cannot be moved because of livestock movement restrictions imposed because of foot-and-mouth.
The arrangements also aim to relieve welfare problems where pregnant sheep and cattle are stranded away from their home farms in winter quarters.
But farmers will be angry that they will not receive full compensation.
“It will be a voluntary scheme and the farmer will have make a commercial judgement,” Mr Brown said at a media briefing on Thursday (15 March).
Some industry pundits believe that more than 1 million animals will be killed under the governments extended cull to control foot-and-mouth disease.
But Mr Brown said only that it would be well over 100,000.He added: “It certainly is going to be a substantial number. This is a safety first operation.”
Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore said it could up to four weeks to cull all animals within 3km of infected farms in Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway.
The priority is to cull infected animals and others deemed to be most at risk. A cull of apparently healthy animals in the area will begin as soon as possible.
Up to 200,000 sheep on 500 farms are likely to be killed in Scotland alone.
Infection is spreading between nearby farms for no obvious reason, although movement of people or vehicles are likely to be to the cause in some cases.
Mr Scudamore said the cull would present an immense logistical problem.
Some livestock will be slaughtered on-farm. Other apparently healthy animals will taken to dedicated abattoirs, although they will not enter the food chain.