Take risks to beat foot-and-mouth

23 March 2001

‘Take risks to beat foot-and-mouth’

By FWi staff

ERADICATING foot-and-mouth in Cumbria must take precedence over following rules to the letter, claims a farmer helping to co-ordinate operations.

Les Armstrong was drafted on to Ministry of Agriculture operations team after Tony Blair met with farmers leaders in Cumbria on Thursday.

Mr Armstrong, who has suffered foot-and-mouth on his own farm, said the time has come when it is no longer possible to adopt a rigid “zero risk” approach.

Moves to speed up and improve operations that may involve “minor risk” will have to be undertaken to get on top of foot-and-mouth.

More than 160 of the 480 UK outbreaks of foot-and-mouth have occurred in Cumbria, making it by far the most heavily infected county.

Already strained logistical chains will be further stretched by the pre-emptive cull of 300,000 animals within a 3km radius of infected farms.

While Mr Armstrong refused to be drawn on specifics, moves could involve suggestions by the Army to speed up the removal of slaughtered stock.

Army personnel believe they have found a solution to a shortage of “sealed” vehicles to transport infected carcasses which has slowed efforts.

This would involve customising other wagons with a special type of plastic liner which would provide adequate protection against disease-spread during transportation.

“None of us must be under any illusions,” said Mr Armstrong. “But we are determined to stop the spread and to stamp it out.”

“There is a deep resolve. We are talking can do, will do.

“Mr Blair said he would knock down any hurdles that stood in our way and thats exactly what we will be asking for if we encounter any more problems.”

Mr Armstrong said he would be trying to identify mass burial sites on Friday (23 March) to ease pressure on other methods of disposal.

And talks were underway with livestock hauliers on the possibility of mobilising idle wagons and staff who have been laid off.

Mr Armstrong said he was hoping that Carlisle abattoir could be re-opened to handle the slaughter of large numbers of stock.

“I know its better to kill and bury on the farm but, if we can get some stock to slaughter premises, they are easier to deal with without the skins on when they are transported for rendering.”

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

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