25 March 2001
Ministers set to outlaw swill feeding
By Alistair Driver
THE Government is set to propose a ban on swill feeding in pigs and a tightening up of rules governing the movement of livestock this week.
Junior farm minister Baroness Hayman has revealed that the Ministry of Agriculture hopes to begin a major consultation exercise soon.
This will cover a range of proposals designed to prevent a repeat of the foot-and-mouth crisis.
Among these will be banning swill feeding and outlawing the movement of livestock for 21 days after animals arrive at a new holding.
The feeding of swill to pigs on the Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, farm belonging to Ronnie and Bobby Waugh is widely blamed for sparking the crisis.
“We are looking to go out to consultation this week on an overall ban of pig swill feeding,” Baroness Hayman said.
She said the ministry is responding to urgent concerns over the issue, but pointed out that only 1.4% of pigs, about 80,000 are fed swill.
Licensed swill feeders are required to heat treat swill, mainly catering waste that can legally include pork, before they feed it to pigs.
But Baroness Hayman admitted there have been prosecutions recently of swill feeders who have not prepared swill properly.
She denied newspaper claims that the government advisers on BSE, SEAC, had advised the Government to ban the practise three years ago.
“There was advice to ministers from SEAC in 1997, but it did not recommend a ban on swill feeding,” she said.
The advice was not concerned with foot-and-mouth disease, she said.
It was concerned with the risk of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies being spread through swill and recommended that the Government remove that risk.
“On that basis we banned the use pig products from slaughterhouses in pigswill. SEAC supported the action we took.”
The Government is also likely to clamp down of the extent of animal movements through markets.
Animals would have to be kept on holdings for 21 days before moving on again. Similar rules already applying to pigs would be extended to cattle and sheep.
This would allow disease to show in animals that are new to holdings before they can be moved on and infect other animals, the Government believes.
Multiple movements of infected sheep through markets has been identified by Agriculture Minister Nick Brown as the primary cause of the spread of the virus across the country.
He has made it clear he wants to remove this risk when normal trading finally resumes again.
The 21-day restriction would hamper the activities of sheep traders who are at the heart of the network of sheep movements.
Eighten new outbreaks of foot-and mouth had been confirmed by Sunday (25 March) taking the UK total to 573.
Twelve cases were confirmed in Cumbria, four in Devon and two in Worcestershire.