At his regular weekly round-up meeting with stakeholders, the Government's Chief Veterinary Officer, Jim Scudamore, emphasised the importance and reasons behind the current control measures against the outbreak of classical swine fever in East Anglia. Noting the recent reductions in the size of current infected areas, and the Commission's decision to limit the ban on exports of live pigs to Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, he said:

"Classical swine fever is a virulent disease which, once established, can be difficult to control. So far in the present outbreak we have been fortunate. With the efforts of all concerned, and a generally very responsible approach by the affected farming community, we have seen no sign of major spread. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore the possibility that we will confirm further cases of classical swine fever and need to impose new restrictions and surveillance zones.

I fully understand the difficulties these restrictions pose for the farmers affected, as the Minister, Nick Brown, discussed with industry leaders on Wednesday. I cannot stress strongly enough that these restrictions are imposed for the protection of both the local and the wider national pig industry community. The disease can spread all too readily through movement of pigs, vehicles and people. In the case of the infected areas strict movements restrictions are essential to control the spread of the disease. We need everyone involved to continue to take a responsible attitude, and help us with their active and vigilant co-operation."

Jim Scudamore also recognised farmers' concern about how quickly restrictions could be lifted. He said:

"Of course what matters to individual farmers under restriction is how quickly those restrictions can be lifted. This is affected by the various timetables set by the control measures, and by the time needed to complete our examinations and testing. We will start inspections in each surveillance zone as soon as EU rules permit and we will keep the industry at local and national level informed about our progress. However, we have to recognise that, even if we do not see significant further disease, the process of lifting all restrictions will take several weeks."

Details of the Government funded Pig Welfare (Disposal) Scheme will be posted tomorrow to all pig farmers in the five surveillance zones. The Scheme will come into force on Wednesday.


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