Following the continuing spread of foot and mouth disease in Staffordshire and elsewhere, and the Government decision to delay the local elections, Tim Yeo MP, Shadow Agriculture Minister, has established four criteria, which must be met before the foot and mouth crisis can be considered to be under control.
Supporting these criteria, Michael Fabricant says “While welcoming the Government's decision to delay the elections from May 3rd, it will make little sense to hold them on June 7th if the situation regarding foot and mouth disease is not any easier. After all, it was because of foot and mouth that the Prime Minister decided to postpone the May 3rd elections in the first place!
“Yeo's four criteria should determine whether or not an election should be held here in Staffordshire and elsewhere. Firstly, the standard time between the report of a new case of the disease and the slaughter of the animals in question must be 24 hours or less. The Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor David King, recommended this nearly two weeks ago, and the Government are not even close to achieving this target.
“Secondly, the geographical spread of the disease must have reversed. Twenty-six counties have had new outbreaks over the last two weeks. The situation will only be improving once infected areas are declared safe.
“Thirdly, movement restrictions must have been lifted from most farms. Currently tight restrictions on the movement of healthy animals prevent many farmers from running the farms efficiently. One result is that the number of animals now awaiting slaughter under the Welfare Disposal Scheme has now risen to well over a million.
“Finally, the trend in new cases of the disease must be clearly downward. Only until then, can we logically consider holding elections – let alone a general election.”
“Nick Brown has consistently claimed the situation is under control. I hope he will not do so again until these four conditions have been met.”
MAFF failed this morning to provide any updated figures on the number of animals designated for slaughter, awaiting slaughter or awaiting disposal. The most up to date version however is evidence of a worsening backlog:
|Fri 30/03||Sat 31/01||Sun 01/04||Mon 02/04|
|Animals authorised for slaughter||910,000||940,000||955,000||1,010,000|
|Animals awaiting slaughter||340,000||353,000||345,000||379,000|
|Carcasses awaiting disposal||162,000||166,000||178,000||192,000|