The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced a grant of £3m (US$4.3m) to help the UK food and drink industry recover from the foot and mouth crisis.
Since the food industry said it was swallowing losses of some £50m per week at the height of the crisis, due to a ban on exports of animal-derived foods, including dairy products, the cash injection is modest, but is being received as “a step in the right direction” by the companies worst hit by the crisis.
The government is to launch a set of independent investigations into the outbreak of foot and mouth, but has rejected calls for a full public inquiry as too expensive and time-consuming. Three inquiries will be launched, one into the government’s handling of the crisis, a second consisting of a scientific review, and lastly a commission into the future of farming and food.
Some of the money the government has made available will be spent on promoting UK exports under the auspices of Food From Britain, the government-backed exporting marketing agency, while more than half of it will be spent in the UK, notably boosting the marketing of regional foods.
So far 1,941 cases of foot and mouth have been confirmed in the UK, while 3,701,000 animals have been culled.
The outbreak also had a devastating affect on the tourism industry, as closed footpaths and farmland kept holidaymakers away.