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Stackyard News Aug 07

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Scottish Farmers on High Alert as FMD Restrictions Hit Hard

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.

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galloway cattle

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 of abattoirs.

“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 66

link FMD Outbreak - “A Cruel Blow”
link Foot and Mouth Disease Strain Link to Vaccine Lab
link Foot and Mouth Disease - Livestock Movement Ban

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NFU Scotland