Livestock news

Foot-and-mouth scare over
Source: FWi 30 September 2002

By Jane Oliver

MOVEMENT restrictions have been lifted after results proved negative on a bull believed to have foot-and-mouth disease.

No evidence of the disease was found in the animal from St Cleer, near Liskeard, Cornwall, said government officials.

Vets had found signs of a vesicular condition they thought was foot-and-mouth but samples taken were negative.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had cordoned off the farm as a precautionary measure last Monday (23 September).

DEFRA veterinary manager Jan Kelly said: “It looked very much like foot-and-mouth but the lesions weren’t typical of the disease.”

Livestock movements were banned within a five-mile radius while more detailed investigations were carried out.

The all-clear was given exactly one year after the last confirmed case of foot-and-mouth in Britain which was on 30 September 2001.

But 12 months on, rural life is still a long way from normal.

The first exports of British beef since the crisis left Wales destined for Holland last week.

But Paul Cheale, owner the Essex abattoir where the foot-and-mouth epidemic was discovered in February 2001 said: “The disease has made it very difficult.

"I have been exporting pork but it is not the same as there is not as much stock around. We have maintained our through-put but it is an increasingly competitive market.

Two months ago, the government pledged a #421m increase in the rural affairs budget to help rebuild the countryside over the next three years.

Much of the money will be used to fund recommendations made by Sir Donald Curry's commission into the future of food and farming.

But many proposals are a long way from filtering down to ordinary farmers.

Proposals include plans for the electronic identification of livestock and for better protection from illegal food imports.

But shipments of illegal meat, blamed for bringing foot-and-mouth into the country, remain a threat, the National Farmers' Union has warned.

NFU Cumbria chairman Will Cockbain said: “Controls at ports have been pathetic. Farmers and the rural community cannot go through another disease outbreak."

Animal movement restrictions continue to hamper livestock sales.

Countryside minister Elliot Morley insists the 20-day rule will remain in place at least until the end of the year.

The rule restricts livestock movements off holdings for 20 days when new animals are brought on to farms.

But there is some good news.

Phoenix, the calf that became a symbol of hope during the crisis after escaping slaughter, has just been serviced for the first time.

Now a maiden heifer, she is expected to calve late next June.