Campaigners from the Foot and Mouth Group are urging the government to adopt vaccination now and not wait another 6 weeks before implementing the widely rumoured programme.
For all those organisations and groups that have campaigned for vaccination since the start of the 2001 UK epidemic, the 2000th case has brought disillusionment and despair.
"How many more of these unexplained outbreaks like Hexham, Skipton, Clitheroe, Whitby and the Brecon Beacons must we have before the inevitable becomes apparent and vaccination is implemented. We know that it is not an easy decision for the Government, but the public can take no more of this endless slaughter and its devastating effects."
"The culling of 4 million animals in an attempt to control the decease should never have happened. 46,000 animals alone in the Hexham outbreak, have been slaughtered."
It was the end of March when Tony Blair and the Government almost adopted vaccination. There were then 800 cases. Today we have had the 2000th and almost 10,000 farms have been slaughtered out.
Not only has the slaughter policy inflicted a huge toll on the agricultural industry, but it has caused immeasurable damage to tourism, the wider rural economy and its communities. In addition to the monumental number of animals that have been slaughtered, the animal suffering caused by welfare problems in the spring when lambs were trapped in muddy fields without food or shelter will haunt us for many for years to come.
Now with autumn approaching and movement restrictions still in place, we see the same looming welfare problems, as sheep and lambs cannot be moved from the hills and fells to lowland farms and face starvation and exposure to the harshness of winter, without food or shelter.
Despite all this the Government still refuses to vaccinate, even though Jim Scudamore, the CVO, has said quite openly that the disease may have survived in the hill sheep since the outbreak last spring. If this is the case then we can expect to see many more outbreaks as autumn approaches.
It would be possible within EU legislation and OIE regulations to vaccinate animals in vaccination zones, such animals would not require to be slaughtered, and their meat and meat products can be prepared to enter the food chain. Both the Food Standards Agency and the National Consumer Council have said there is no problem with vaccinated meat and tonnes of FMD vaccinated meat is already imported and consumed here and has been for many years.* Such arrangements would not prevent those areas of the UK which are free from disease to start exporting again.
At the end of March the nation urged Tony Blair to adopt vaccination. 5 months on, 4 million animals have been killed, lives and livelihoods have been wiped out and rural communities have been destroyed and there is still no end in sight.
* If further information is required please contact us.
The National Foot & Mouth Group
Co-ordinating Office: 3 The Common, Siddington, Cirencester, Glos GL7 6EY Tel: 01285 644319 or 01285 656812