NFU Scotland has stressed that farmers are remaining on extremely
high alert for foot and mouth disease but are already suffering
from the necessary, but crippling, restrictions which have shutdown
the red meat industry.
Cattle, sheep and pigs, along with other susceptible animals,
are now prevented from moving off or between farms as a result
of the GB-wide movement ban. There is also a EU export ban on
live animals and meat products, all of which mean livestock farmers
have no outlet to market, no income and rising bills for feed.
NFUS is in constant contact with government officials and is
stressing the critical need for movement of animals into the
food chain to begin, providing vets are satisfied that it does
not expose Scotland to unnecessary disease risks. Similarly,
moves need to be made as soon as possible to examine options
for lifting the ban on meat exports to Europe, which would normally
be in place for three months after the end of the disease outbreak.
Speaking today, NFUS President Jim McLaren said:
“This is an extremely worrying time for Scottish farmers.
We are all on high alert and everyone is maintaining the highest
standards of biosecurity and checking their stock for any symptoms.
Adhering to the current movement ban is also absolutely critical.
“At the moment, this remains a localised outbreak in Surrey
and everyone is hoping it remains that way. However, whilst this
disease remains hundreds of miles away, it is already having
a devastating impact on Scottish farms. The industry is shutdown
at the moment and for every day it stays that way, the cost goes
up by millions.
“This is early days in a rapidly moving situation but
we need to see, as quickly as possible, animals going direct
from farms into the food chain under licence. However, obviously
this can only happen if the disease control experts are happy
to let it.
“We are speaking to the major retailers and have stressed
that this is the perfect opportunity for them to stand by their
words of commitment to Scottish food and farming. The last thing
we want to see is our biggest customers getting imported supplies
of food when we may only be facing a very short-term shutdown
“I would commend the efforts of the Scottish Executive
so far. Their action, for example to lift the ban on burying
animals on farm in light of the suspension of pick-up services,
is a good example of the Cabinet Secretary and his officials
working extremely quickly and in close harmony with industry.”
The Scottish Executive foot and mouth helpline is 0845 155 33
Outbreak - “A Cruel Blow”
Foot and Mouth Disease Strain Link to Vaccine Lab
Foot and Mouth Disease - Livestock Movement Ban