Farmers' President Gives Evidence to the Anderson Inquiry

UK - British National Farmers' Union President Peter Kendall has been giving evidence to the Anderson Inquiry which was set up to review the Government's handling of last year's foot and mouth outbreak.
calendar icon 28 January 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

"Compared to the 2001 outbreak, this one was handled much better and many of the lessons have been learned."
National Farmers' Union President Peter Kendall

Mr Kendall told the hearing: "This inquiry is about how well the outbreak was handled, not its origins. But we must put on record at the outset that this is an outbreak that shouldn't have happened.

"Compared to the 2001 outbreak, this one was handled much better and many of the lessons have been learned. But there were a number of factors that made it, objectively, a much easier incident to deal with. It was detected earlier, there had been few animal movements, and it was, therefore, localized.

"In the 2001 outbreak, it was evident the authorities had, at least in the initial period, done too little. This time the question must be asked whether the authorities did too much. An outbreak in which there were only eight infected premises, confined to a small area in Surrey, led to prolonged restrictions throughout the country with a cost to farmers of more than £100m and a cost to the public purse of £47m. This seems disproportionate.

"We think there could be a better way. It is right to shut down the whole country immediately there is an outbreak. But if we had an effective computerised animal tracing system, we could instantly see where animals from the infected area had moved to and restrictions could be placed there while the rest of the country could be rapidly freed up. Sadly we don't have an effective system at the moment.

"We are also concerned at how devolution is affecting the issue. Decisions on animal health issues should be science-based and follow risk assessments. In animal health terms Great Britain is an epidemiological unit. When different decisions are taken in England, Wales and Scotland the impression is given that these decisions are political rather than scientific."

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