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MP tables a 20-day re-think motion

By Nadia Jefferson-Brown

A LOCAL MP is demanding that Government re-evaluates animal movement restrictions to safeguard the livelihood of farmers and the agricultural community, reports Nadia Jefferson-Brown.

MP for Penrith and the Border David Maclean wants Whitehall to show its solidarity with the livestock industry by addressing its concerns over the continuation of the 20-day rule.

The movement restrictions aim to allow time for detection of any new foot-and-mouth outbreak and slow the spread of any undetected disease between its arrival and detection.

Animal Health Minister Elliot Morley announced earlier this year that additional exemptions to the rule would be introduced this autumn as part of a series of changes to the interim animal movement regime.

Sheep and cattle used for breeding this season, which go into a strict on-farm isolation facility for 20 days on arrival, will not trigger movement restrictions on the rest of the farm. But otherwise, the standstill will remain in place until permanent rules are brought into force early next year.

In a motion tabled for the House of Commons, Mr Maclean is calling upon the Government "to examine the exemption process with a view to a more flexible and less bureaucratic regime which provides greater support for English and Welsh farmers who otherwise will be obliged either to break the law or face commercial ruin".

Explaining the motion, Mr Maclean said: "The Government desperately needs to reconsider this rule for the livelihood of our farmers and agricultural community. Cumbria has suffered enough at the hands of the foot-and-mouth crisis and needs all the help it can get from the Government.

"This rule can be more flexible, as seen in Scotland, so why punish our farmers further? Many constituents have written to me on this issue and it needs to be addressed by the bureaucratic officials at DEFRA."

12:41 Thursday 28th November 2002