Welsh step up cull in new cluster

16 July 2001

Welsh step up cull in new cluster

By Robert Davies, Wales correspondent

THE Welsh Assembly has announced that 5000 livestock are to be slaughtered in a bid to eradicate a new cluster of foot-and-mouth disease.

This comes after four cases of the virus were confirmed in a previously clean area at Crickhowell, on the border between Powys and Monmouthshire.

Now two thousand animals are being slaughtered on the affected farms and neighbouring holdings.

Another 3000 will be culled on nearby Sugar Loaf Common, where animals graze on unfenced common land.

“This new cluster at Crickhowell is an absolute hammer-blow,” said John Roberts, executive officer for the Brecon and Radnor branch of the Farmers Union of Wales.

“Every farmer in the area is desperately worried about the way the disease is jumping to new locations.”

The FUW is demanding an investigation into how the virus reached the farms to see if there is any link with sheep returning from common grazings for shearing.

Confirmation of the cases trapped thousands of sheep gathered from the Sugar Loaf and Llangynidir commons on their home farms.

Grass is in short supply on many of these units and farmers have been forced to turn stock into fields closed off for making hay.

Commoners have been stunned by the apparent discovery of virus antibodies in the blood of a ewe being tested on the Brecon Beacons, where some 40,000 sheep graze open land.

The 168 sheep in the sample group have been slaughtered as a precaution, and the positive result is being rechecked.

Both Welsh farming unions continue to insist that vaccination is not the best way to defeat the disease; a view shared by Franz Fischler, the EUs Farm Commissioner.

In Brussels at the weekend he warned that vaccination would lead to considerable further delays in the reopening of the UKs export market.

Over the weekend, fears grew that two million British lambs could be culled within weeks because disease restrictions mean they cannot be exported.

These light lambs are popular in Italy and France but not Britain, and farmers believe they will be unable to find a domestic market for them.

Since Saturday (14 July) evening six new cases of foot-and-mouth have been confirmed, three each in Powys and Cumbria. The UK total now stands at 1853.


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