MAFF information could be better

15 August 2000

MAFF information ‘could be better’

By FWi Staff

GOVERNMENT communications since the outbreak of swine fever in East Anglia could have been better, a junior agriculture minister has admitted.

Producers have called for more information on blood testing, details on which herds are affected, and regular updates on the situation.

Baroness Hayman has now conceded such criticism of Ministry of Agriculture communications had some justification.

But she told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme this was because the ministry had been devoting its energies to controlling the outbreak.

“You can always do communications better, particularly when you are in a situation when you simply have to get on with the very basic disease control measures,” she said.

“I think weve learned some lessons the first few days in improving that.”

Baroness Hayman pledged to provide better information on the MAFF website, working closely with the National Pig Association.

She said the government was doing everything it could to ensure the disease was controlled and the European ban on live pig exports lifted.

However, she was unable to offer compensation to producers whose herds have not been affected but are hit by restriction orders.

With cashflow halted, but labour and feed costs still to be met, producers fear they could be driven out of business

She said no decision had been made on the issue of compensation for farmers hit by restriction orders.

Meanwhile, the supermarket chain Asda has threatened to remove Belgian pate from its stores in retaliation to the ban on live English pigs, reports BBC Online.

Asda says it will take action unless the embargo announced on Monday (14 August) is lifted soon, or if it is extended to cover all pork products.

But the move was described as “premature” by Mike Sheldon of the National Pig Association who said it was not a human health issue.

In the short term, the ban was a sensible act on the part of the European Commission, Mr Sheldon added.

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