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
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
“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
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