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7 No Lessons Learnt from Foot and Mouth

7 An Animal Health Bill set to make the same mistakes again

7 No Government Blue Print for a Sustainable Future for Rural Britain

A Year on from the Foot and Mouth Crisis the Government has no Contingency Plan in place to deal with another outbreak any differently than it did in 2001.   The Royal Society recommendations have not been acted upon, no provision has been made to use Vaccination and the Government has given no indication that it intends to do so.

Instead the Animal Health Bill is due to proceed without debate. A Bill that will even further extend and increase the Minister's powers to seize and slaughter farm animals and livestock.   A Bill that has not been founded on substantive scientific or empirical data and information.

A Year on there has still been no critical, independent analysis of the epidemiological data about Foot and Mouth; there has been no proper Inquiry.

The future of farming, the rural economy, its landscape and communities is at stake.  Critical decisions need to be taken by the Government if the Lessons of Foot & Mouth are truly to be learnt.  Never again must the UK deal with any animal disease in the way it dealt with Foot & Mouth.

What is needed is sustainable agriculture and food production which protects the unique countryside of the UK and ensures the survival of a rich and diverse environment, a thriving rural economy and dynamic communities.

But what is Government policy?? - an increasing and unfettered globalisation, with no parity for animal welfare or health standards between imports and UK produced food.    A food supply chain which no longer delivers a living wage to many farmers. Supermarkets with ever increasing power and control to determine how food is produced, distributed and marketed. 

The complex, inter-related and inter-dependent nature of farming, tourism and rural life needs to be urgently addressed.  More draconian powers to slaughter animals - due to be adopted in the Animal Health Bill - are not the answer.

Far-reaching changes are needed if agriculture is to evolve sustainably and ensure that the environment, the landscape and rural livelihoods are preserved and enhanced.

The Countryside is our most vital resource.  With its vast diversity, its capacity to feed us and its ability to be the green lungs of the nation we cannot afford to squander it.  We call upon the Government to look carefully and think again before consigning Rural UK to a decline it may never recover from.