Farm virus laws flouted

Pyres became a grim but familiar site

Many within the agriculture industry are regularly flouting laws introduced
to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, BBC Radio 4's Farming Today
has learned.
The epidemic of 2001 led to the slaughter of more than six million animals
and is estimated to have cost the UK as much as #4bn.

But it has now emerged trading standards officers have reported thousands of
animals are being moved illegally by farmers and livestock dealers.

It was the rapid unrecorded movement of livestock which caused
foot-and-mouth disease to spread out of control.

In Surrey, reports involve the illegal dealing of sheep across three county

In Cornwall, officials have targeted dealers and farmers trading hundreds of
cattle without keeping records including animal passports.

Dramatic changes

But the news comes at a time when farmers are calling for the laws on animal
movements to be relaxed because they say they are unworkable.

The 2001 epidemic was vastly more serious than the last major outbreak in
1967, because of dramatic changes in the farming industry.

Continuous national movement of animals made it hard to trace the progress
of the disease.

Cumbria was particularly badly affected after the arrival of infected
animals at a livestock market.

During the crisis, as well as the decimation of livestock farming, British
tourism was badly affected, with foreign visitors put off by images of
burning pyres of carcasses.