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With FMD Over, New Precautions Unveiled by Govt

30 March 2011

SOUTH KOREA - Declaring that the nation’s worst foot-and-mouth outbreak was over, the government announced a new measure to tighten its oversight of the livestock industry last week, requiring farmers to apply for permits to operate cattle and pig farms starting next year.

Following a discussion with the ruling Grand National Party, the Lee Myung-bak administration yesterday admitted that it failed to properly handle the FMD outbreaks at an early stage. The disease, which swept across the nation except for Jeolla and Jeju since November, cost the government 3 trillion won ($2.7 billion), Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said in a press conference yesterday. “Fortunately, the situation has calmed down now,” Kim said. “No more outbreaks were reported since 26 February, and the number of animals culled in the infected areas is rapidly decreasing.”

The government has lowered the alert level for the disease, Kim said, adding that authorities are now able to control the situation. Starting next year, only farmers who have proper facilities and who have completed education programs on epizootic preventive measures will be given permits to operate cattle and pig farms. The government said the permit system will be adopted for large-scale farmers, while small-scale farmers will need to register with their local authorities, detailing their farming of chickens, ducks, cattle and pigs. The government said more details on the permit system, including who will be considered large-scale farmers, will be determined by the end of next month.

Under the new plan, the government will also hold farmers accountable for outbreaks after conducting probes on their fulfillment of prevention efforts. A new standard of compensation will also be used to take into account the outbreak time, period and scope of loss, rather than paying uniform compensation based on the number of culled animals.

Farmers will also be required to partially pay for vaccinations. Local governments will also be required to help pay for culled animal disposals. Conspicuously missing was a plan to impose a ceiling on the number of animals that can be raised on large-scale livestock farms. Government sources said earlier this month that a plan to change factory-style farming practices was being considered as a way to prevent disease outbreaks.

At the time, however, officials also expressed political jitters over such a radical measure, because major livestock farmers are influential people in the industry and their rural areas.

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Source: Korea Joongang Daily


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