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Foot and Mouth Ten years on: it must never happen again says MP

February 14, 2011 1:35 PM

TFLocal MP Tim Farron has put down a parliamentary motion marking the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of the disease.

The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom on February 19th 2001 caused a crisis in British agriculture and tourism. Cumbria was the worst affected area of the country, with 843 cases.

As the crisis intensified the government took major steps to try and deal with the spread of the disease - but those steps also had a devastating effect on tourism. Public rights of way across land were closed by order and thousands of animals were killed to stop the spread of the disease. By the time the disease was halted by October 2001, Foot and Mouth was estimated to have cost the economy £8 billion.

Tim's Early Day motion says: "That this house notes that 2011 is the 10th anniversary of the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak that devastated farming communities across the United Kingdom; recognises that the county of Cumbria was one the worst affected by the disease; expresses solidarity with all the farms and communities affected by the devastation; celebrates the way in which our communities have worked together to ensure their recovery; and commits itself to preventing any further repetition of the horrors of the 2001 outbreak."

Tim said: "Foot and Mouth was a devastating blow to Cumbria and something that must never happen again. I saw the heartbreak at close quarters; seeing farmers who had worked all their lives having to give up their prized livestock is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. However, in those dark times, you got to see Cumbria at it's best, communities coming together, supporting one another and pulling through. There are still things that we can do now to reduce the possibility of such an outbreak ever happening again. We need better import controls to make sure we never get another crisis, so we can trace animals easily and quickly.

We also need to remember that the biggest blow to farming has come in the form of the many regulations and restrictions that have long outlived foot and mouth and may do as much damage to farming as foot and mouth itself. In particular, the 6 day movement rule on livestock movement is an unnecessary and damaging restriction that should be removed when we are not in a time of crisis. Likewise, the introduction of electronic tagging for sheep is damaging over-reaction that does not protect bio-security but does hugely add to farmers' costs."