U.K. livestock producers and government officials are reeling after three new confirmed foot-and-mouth disease cases in the past week. Officials suspect animals diagnosed with the disease recently may have been infected for three weeks before the disease was discovered. A European Union ban on meat, dairy and livestock exports from the UK has now been re-confirmed.
In the most recent FMD confirmation announced Tuesday, the government has said that the disease has been detected in sheep on another farm and that all animals there had been slaughtered."Initial blood tests on clinically healthy sheep on a farm within the protection zone suggest exposure to FMD," a statement from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said late Monday.
Animals have been culled on all farms where disease has been confirmed. One infected premises, Milton Park Farm, is understood to keep over 300 beef cattle on different parcels of land, near Egham.
Cattle and pigs have also been culled on an adjacent farm as a precaution.
With economic losses growing rapidly, the British government is facing mounting criticism that they sounded the "all-clear" too soon. Animal sales and movement restrictions have prevented nearly $20 million worth of transactions taking place within the U.K. livestock sector each day for the past week, according to estimates.The value of breeding animals not being sold in England and Wales is estimated at an additional $6 million per day. The figures highlight the disastrous impact of the latest set of movement restrictions coming into force at the busiest time of year for livestock producers.
The news that the virus is of the same strain as that which leaked from the Pirbright laboratories and caused the first outbreak at the beginning of August heightens the pressure on the British government to compensate the industry for the losses it will inevitably suffer.
Meanwhile, producers devastated by mounting economic losses are exploring their legal options. Various law firms are preparing cases to claim compensation from Defra and/or pharmaceutical company Merial for farmers who are suffering losses due to lapses in biosecurity at the Pirbright site.
The Tenant Farmers Associationnational chairman Reg Haydon says, "I cannot believe we are back to square one with this new outbreak. If we thought the virus leak from Pirbright was serious before this happened there is now no excuse the government can give for not compensating for the losses that will accrue as we work to tackle these new outbreaks."
"The TFA members who own livestock I have spoken to are naturally angry, upset and demoralized. For many, particularly in the hills, it is this time of the year when they gain the bulk of their income as they sell the crop of lambs and calves to finishing farms on low lying land. What chance do they have now? Where are they going to get the feed to sustain those animals through the shut down period? I will be asking the government to move quickly to put in place measures to deal with these issues," said Haydon.
This is one of the busiest times of the year for U.K. livestock sales. The biggest ram market of the year was due to take place on Friday in Kelso and the cost to stage that event will be a total loss along with the much needed income to those selling. The whole cycle of livestock production will be hit hard.
Source: The Pigsite.com