Thursday, December 07, 2006

Foot-and-mouth disease - no compensation in future?

The assembly government is having talks with farmers' representatives about the industry picking up all the bills for outbreaks of animal epidemic disease in future, reports the BBC.

This looks like just the latest in a line of populist moves by New Labour. In 2001 and 2004 there were moves in Westminster to compel farmers to take out insurance against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

"Labour MP for Newport West Paul Flynn said the government should not be 'picking up the bill for everything that goes wrong'."

All very reasonable - but what about the government playing its part? Farmers have no power to prevent suspect animal material coming into the UK. Only the government can do that, and the evidence is that it is not doing it very well. The Treasury's recent across-the-board cuts in manpower will not help.

And can one rely on this government to act decisively and at once in the event of a future outbreak? All livestock markets have to be cancelled and animal movements stopped immediately, the army being called in if necessary. This action was not taken in either of the last two FMD outbreaks.

Post a Comment