Suggestions that “regionalisation” offered the
best and quickest route for Scotland to get back to normal livestock
trading were cautioned yesterday by the National Beef Association
Regionalisation, the separation of a country within the UK requires
Brussels approval and would be a lengthy exercise, according to
NBA Scotland chairman, Iain Mathers.
Classifying areas according to distance from any foot-and-mouth
outbreak – irrespective of country boundaries – offered
a better option and could be implemented by the UK Government without
seeking EU approval.
“Regionalisation for Scotland would actually hinder the early
removal of existing tight livestock movement restrictions because
of the time it would take to secure Brussels approval,” said
Mr Mathers. “It would also have long-term implications for
trade in livestock and livestock products between Scotland and
Scotland currently imports around 1000 cattle a week from south
of the Border, representing 10% of the normal weekly kill, to maintain
the viability of abattoirs.
Creating a barrier at the border would prevent these cattle coming
into Scotland and create “huge disadvantages” for beef
farmers with farms near the Border. The need for constant monitoring
of all livestock movements would involve considerable cost and
In addition, products from beef shipped to England for further
processing would not be permitted back into Scotland for retail
“Shutting the country off may not be the best option and
a proper and thorough debate must take place with Government officials
and industry stakeholders over the next few days to find the best
solution,” said Hamish McBean, Vice Chairman of NBA Scotland. “Decisions
cannot be made until there is clear evidence gathered from the
epidemiology and risk assessment reports, all the animal tracings
and the outcome of the gene sequencing technology being used.”
NBA Scotland supports the concept of high and low risk areas and
a buffer area with restricted livestock movements between areas.
The classification of areas concept is already built into regulations
covering the control of Blue Tongue disease.
“Areas would need to be large enough to encourage and support
normal trade routes and could apply across country borders,” said
Hamish. “A low risk zone, for example, could by Scotland
and northern/central England and Wales. A high risk zone of 150km
could be placed around the Surrey area where the virus is circulating
with the remaining area of the country – between the low
and high risk zones – being classified as a buffer area.
Hamish McBean stressed that the most important aim was the eradication
of the disease and NBA Scotland was urging farmers to be far more
vigilant with bio security measures, especially when taking cattle
to slaughter, attending approved sales on the islands or delivering
stock to collection centres.
“There are reports of farmers failing to follow recommendations
to clean and disinfect vehicles which could result in more restrictions
being applied or further delays in the relaxation of restrictions,” he
“The whole industry is under the European microscope with
Food and Vet Officials here in the UK to check the controls which
have been put in place. Any breach of bio security will result
in a far greater delay in returning to normal trading.”
And he added: “Everyone in the industry is extremely frustrated
by the current crisis and its implications for their businesses
and financial well-being. But we must not let ourselves down by
being complacent about FMD restrictions.”
Mr Mathers welcomed the efforts being made by the Scottish Government
and Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead, to relieve the growing
pressure on livestock farms by issuing general licences to help
farmers move livestock in this critical period.
NFUS Foot and Mouth Disease Update
Defra Dashes Hopes of Grants for NVZ Slurry Stores
Undercover Mum Exposes Zebu Beef