Someone must take control of foot and mouth

UK - Who'd be a livestock farmer? It is difficult to explain the depth of fury and frustration that the confirmation of a second new case of foot and mouth in Surrey will have caused in the countryside.
calendar icon 15 September 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
For an outbreak this month is an entirely different proposition to the outbreak in August.

September is when breeding ewes that have been kept in the hills are brought down and sold off, when animals are sold for fattening, when lambs go to slaughter and when rams are bought to start breeding next year's lambs. For people who sell animals for a living, this is harvest time.

Around 60 per cent of Britain's 1.1 billion livestock population is traded between August and November, a period now likely to be rife with restrictions, if not an outright ban, on movements, even if no other case of the disease is found.

Trade in that period is worth £600 million. Timing is everything. An animal of the wrong weight is worth less money.

Now all livestock movements are stopped. And the implications for the areas of the country that produce cattle, sheep and pigs are the equivalent of a disastrously wet harvest with grain sprouting in the ear.

If sales don't happen - and vast sheep sales at Kelso and Builth Wells were to have taken place over the next few days - farmers will go to the wall.

If there are more cases of foot and mouth, or if it is discovered that animals have been traded beyond Surrey after Debby Reynolds, the chief vet, pronounced the epidemic eradicated there last week, we could have a full-scale national crisis on our hands.

Source: Daily Telegtraph
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