10 April 2001
New cases cause near panic in Wales
By Robert Davies, Wales correspondent
THE Welsh Assemblys agriculture committee has been recalled from its Easter recess after some of the countrys biggest foot-and-mouth outbreaks so far.
Committee members were recalled from their three-week break after the disease was found in north Powys and the industrial valleys of south Wales.
More foot-and-mouth cases near Welshpool have yet to be officially confirmed. But FARMERS WEEKLY understands one of them involves 500 cows.
The committee will hear complaints from farmers that Government claims about diagnosis and disposal times are misleading and pure fantasy.
One farmer was told his cows would be killed within 48 hours, but had to milk them another 13 times before the slaughtermen arrived.
Agriculture committee chairman Glyn Davies, who is himself a farmer, told FARMERS WEEKLY: The rural economy in Wales is in meltdown.
“It is a big step to recall the committee, but people are very worried about the very long delays, and the long distance transport of carcasses for disposal.
Farmers are very angry about some of the claims that control measures are working that have come from the Prime Minister since he took charge.”
Producers and residents campaigning against the disposal of carcasses on a Welsh military range have been warned that the only alternative is vaccination.
Welsh rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones said animals next to infected farms would be not be culled if two local council obtained court injuntions.
The injunctions would stop the burial site being used and the so-called contiguous farm cull would be halted. Vaccination may then be used.
Both Powys and Carmarthen councils are considering legal action to prevent the movement of carcasses through uninfected areas.
Pressure has been increased since protestors saw red liquid thought to be blood leaking from a truck loaded with carcasses..
A National Assembly spokeswoman refused to say whether the liquid was blood, or red dye added to disinfectant sprayed on dead animals before movement.
But she confirmed that the vehicle had taken a wrong route and entered the disease-free county of Carmarthenshire. The haulier concerned was sacked.
Improvements have been made to loading, sealing and routing procedures.
But the reassurances failed to satisfy councillors at an emergency meeting, some of whom believe court action is the only way of protecting Carmarthenshire.
In the meantime the councillors have called for the prosecution of the transport company involved and a further meeting with assembly officials.