News 467 views last update:Oct 1, 2007

UK: farmers want to sue over FMD

British farmers are gearing up for legal action against the government to recover losses incurred during the current outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), farmer groups said.

"When I hear stories of milk having to be poured away, calves assembled for export having to be slaughtered and high quality breeding pigs unable to be shipped, I am not just dismayed, I am furious," Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers Union, said.

According to the union, hundreds of NFU members have registered to be part of the group action to recover losses incurred following the movement ban.

The first outbreak, on August 3, has been traced to biosecurity breaches at the partly government-run veterinary research complex in Pirbright, in the county of Surrey in southern England.

In total, now seven cases of FMD have been reported, all within miles of the first outbreak - none of them included a pig farm.

Britain imposed livestock movement restrictions in an attempt to control the spread of FMD. The EU also banned British exports of fresh meat, live animals and milk products.

"I am relieved the government has eased movement restrictions this week, but the fact remains that they would not have been needed in the first place if the proper biosecurity and containment measures had been in place at Pirbright," Kendall said.

In addition, representatives of NFU Scotland and the Farmers' Union of Wales voiced similar opinions.

A spokeswoman for the farm ministry said it would "consider any representations when they are received". She said the government's legal obligation was to pay compensation for animals killed to prevent the spread of the disease.

According to the website of the British Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the national movement ban, including pigs, will be lifted for the low FMD risk zones in the UK - anywhere outside South East England - as from October 4th.

Related websites:
• National Farmers Union  
• Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs  
• European Union

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