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FMD Outbreak – “A Cruel Blow”
06/08/07

The Tenant Farmers Association has greeted the news which broke on Friday evening that foot and mouth disease (FMD) had returned to Great Britain as a cruel blow to Britain’s fragile livestock industry.

photo courtesy of www.jennifermackenzie.co.uk

beef cattle
TFA National Chairman Reg Haydon said “It has come as a real shock but what we must do now is work with the Government to ensure that it is eradicated as soon as possible. We also need to identify the source of the outbreak and put in place measures to prevent it from happening again”.

The TFA spoke to DEFRA Secretary of State Hilary Benn and Agriculture Minister Lord Rooker on Friday evening shortly after FMD had been confirmed in Surrey. Reluctantly, given the experience gained from the 2001 outbreak when the disease was allowed to spread through livestock movements in the first two days of the crisis, the TFA endorsed the immediate cessation of all movements of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs within Great Britain.

“We told the Secretary of State that it was a tough decision but the right decision to stop all movements of susceptible livestock. However, as a livestock farmer myself, I well know the immense hardship that this standstill will cause but it is, I am afraid, a necessary evil. I was also able to brief the Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron, over the weekend just prior to a meeting with the Prime Minister and he very much took on board the widespread hardship that will be caused and therefore the need for the disease to be hit hard to ensure that we can get the industry back on its feet as soon as possible,” said Mr Haydon.

News is awaited on the conclusions of the inquiry into whether this outbreak emanated from the two laboratories (one Government, one commercial) in Pirbright.

“I do not want to second guess those conclusions but if it does prove to be the case that the virus has leaked from one of the two laboratories the TFA will be looking for redress. Given the strict bio-security that we are told is in place at these labs, it will also show the extent to which the virus is able to exploit loopholes in bio-security and therefore the need for the Government to think again about the wisdom of allowing imports of meat from countries, such as Brazil, were FMD is present,” said Mr Haydon.

“We hope and pray that with the immediate shut down of animal movements and the disease appearing only to be in a mild form in cattle in a part of the country not densely populated with livestock, we can beat the disease quickly. In the meantime we would ask all those who have dealings with livestock farmers to be patient at what is a traumatic time for us all,” said Mr Haydon.

link Foot and Mouth Disease Strain Link to Vaccine Lab
link Foot and Mouth Disease - Livestock Movement Ban
link CLA Response to Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak

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Tenant Farmers Association