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Compo Call For Swill Processors

Wednesday 9th March 2005

Senior politicians have called on the Government to compensate swill processors whose industry they shut down during Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD)in 2001.

At an event organised by the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) in Parliament on Thursday night, Labour MP, George Howarth, and Conservative MP, Boris Johnson, launched an Early Day Motion1 demanding compensation for the 62 members of the Association of Swill Users (ASU).

The 40 million swill processing industry was closed down after it was alleged FMD spread from swill used on a single pig farm in Heddon-on-the-Wall owned by the Waugh brothers.

Bobby Waugh did not process waste himself, he was only licensed to feed swill to pigs and no evidence of FMD was found at any other farms processing swill.

The Government vet who carried out the last inspection of that farm before FMD broke out, has since admitted that he should have been more rigorous, and that the Waugh's practices were, ``patently deficient".

Now the food waste that processors once handled (1.7 million tonnes per year) goes to landfill sites.

Speaking at the event, George Howarth said: ``We want the Government to accept that they have taken away people's livelihoods as a result of DEFRA's failure to supervise one farm."

Boris Johnson commented that ``the whole of a British industry was destroyed at the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen."

David Fursdon, CLA deputy president, who chaired the event said: ``This was a heavilyregulated industry and no swill processor was actually prosecuted in relation to the outbreak of FMD, so why haven't they received compensation like other groups whose businesses were banned by governments - for example mink farmers?"

Jason Podmore, who was bankrupted by the ban, spoke of the dramatic change to his circumstances. ``I went from making a good living to receiving a letter stating that we had 10 days to pack up swill processing," he said.

Keith Ineson, an agricultural chaplain who counsels ex-swill users, some of whom are suffering with severe depression, said: ``Compensation would give them back their dignity and help remove the stigma of blame from swill processors who were carrying out their jobs legally and correctly."

Early Day Motion 830, first put down on March 3, 2005, by George Howarth, reads: "That this House notes that the practice of feeding swill to pigs was banned three months after the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) on 24th May 2001; further notes that the outbreak of FMD is generally accepted to have originated at Burnside Farm, Northumberland; further notes that 62 swill feeders were put out of business as a result of the ban and that the use of swill could only be carried out under a licence issued under the Animal By Products Order 1999 and in accordance with its requirements; further notes that the owners of Burnside Farm were only licensed to feed swill to pigs and that no licensed processor was convicted of having broken that Order and, whilst accepting the banning of swill is a matter for veterinary and scientific advice, joins with the Country Land and Business Association together with the Association of Swill Users to call on the Government to compensate those who lost their livelihoods as a result of the ban."

It was signed by George Howarth and Boris Johnson.