FMD in Asia is Reminder to UK Agencies and Farmers

UK - NFU Scotland has sought reassurances from the Scottish Government that appropriate measures are in place to minimise the risk of foot and mouth disease (FMD) from Asia entering the country.
calendar icon 5 May 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

It also calls on producers to maintain their vigilance and biosecurity standards and adhere to the ban on feeding food waste to their animals.

At the end of last week, the Food and Agriculture Agency of the United Nations (FAO) urged heightened international surveillance against FMD following three recent outbreaks in Japan and South Korea. The FAO has reminded the international community that the disastrous 2001 FMD epidemic, which spread to South Africa, the United Kingdom and Europe, is thought to have originated from outbreaks in these countries.

Imports of livestock and livestock products are already banned from these countries but illegal imports may still pose a risk. The union understands that the UK Border Agency, which is responsible for anti-smuggling controls at the GB border on products of animal origin, has been informed of the current situation with regards to FMD in Asia.

The Local Port Health Authorities, who are responsible for veterinary checks on commercial imports of relevant products at Border Inspection Posts (BIPs), are also aware of the outbreaks.

NFU Scotland Vice-President, Nigel Miller said, “The FMD outbreak in 2001 ripped the heart out of livestock production in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders and had lasting ramifications for all Scottish agriculture. Even the 2007 outbreak, although focussed on a small area in England, caused huge disruption throughout our livestock sector. Vigilance is needed on several fronts to prevent such outbreaks ever happening again.

“First and foremost, this is a disease that is not present in the UK and our island status offers us opportunities to preserve that situation. Livestock and livestock products from areas currently affected by FMD cannot legally enter the country so it is illegal imports that pose the greatest threat. The UK Border Agency is our frontline in protecting these shores from FMD, they are aware of the heightened risk presented by fresh FMD outbreaks in parts of Asia and we expect them to target their enforcement accordingly.

“The Scottish Government has reminded us that Scotland currently has no Border Posts approved for the importation of meat products but its works closely with Defra and other EU Member States to ensure that controls on both legal and illegal imports are as tight as they can be within the European single market.

“Whether dealing with the transport of commercial goods or private travel, there would be merit at this time in all agencies involved in enforcement embarking on a targeted publicity campaign focussed on people or goods arriving from Asia. This should remind all involved of the rules and penalties associated with the illegal import of livestock and livestock products.

“Farmers can also play their part. The main threat to Scotland would result from feeding livestock illegally imported products. It is appropriate to remind livestock keepers that they must adhere to the EU ban on feeding animal by-products, including kitchen waste, to livestock and to continue to maintain high standards of on-farm biosecurity. That is a message that all full time producers are well aware of but stakeholders need to consider how we engage with hobby farmers and those who keep a few animals in their backyard. It is equally important that this group helps to preserve the health of our commercial livestock by resisting the temptation to feed a few scraps to their stock.”

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