Ministers backtrack on movements

5 September 2001

Ministers backtrack on movements

By FWi staff

MINISTERS are considering the urgent re-tightening of livestock movement restrictions in a desperate bid to halt the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

An announcement timed for Thursday (6 September) is expected to ban all livestock movements from at-risk areas unless animals are going to slaughter.

The decision would represent a re-tightening of government proposals unveiled last week to allow a limited trade in livestock between farms.

Furthermore, movements of livestock from and within disease-free areas are expected to be banned unless the animals have been blood-tested.

This decision would represent a re-tightening of previous proposals which indicated that blood-testing would not required in disease-free regions.

Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty is said to have had second thoughts about relaxing the rules after advice from Chief Scientific Officer David King.

Although confusing, the decision to impose stricter rules for some livestock movements indicates continued alarm at the resurgence of foot-and-mouth.

Two more cases of the disease were confirmed in Northumberland on Wednesday (5 September), taking the number of cases in the area to 19.

The National Farmers Union called on the government to indicate clearly what movements it will allow and why as soon as possible.

NFU deputy president Tim Bennett said a balance must be struck between disease control and the need for movements to alleviate problems for farmers.

“There are in excess of 5 million sheep and 1.5 million cattle in what [the government] describes as high risk counties.

He added: “These counties are not museums – we cannot just stand back and leave these animals where they are.

The Government must be prepared to recognise the enormous economic impact that its restrictions will have on producers in these counties.


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