Minister of Agriculture Nick Brown Friday (2 March) announced the conditions under which movements of livestock to slaughter would be allowed. The Minister stressed that such movements would not be permitted to compromise the Government’s efforts to control and exterminate the current outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Nick Brown said:

“The advice from Jim Scudamore, the Chief Veterinary Officer, after discussions with the meat industry and trading standards officers, is that the conditions we are imposing will make movement direct to slaughter acceptable for cattle, sheep and pigs.

“These are tough conditions, and we will enforce them stringently – this is absolutely essential to bring this disease under control and then to move to exterminate it. The industry and the farming community support us in maintaing this as our top priority.

“This is not a return to normal business – the volume will be less than usual, and strict conditions will have to be met. Nonetheless, I hope this move will make the beginning of an orderly return to business for Britain’s livestock farmers and meat industry.”

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Details of the scheme will be contained in an order, which will be published later today. The Government also plans to allow saheep and cattle to be transported to collection centres, so that abbatoirs can draw on full batches of animals, including some from farmers with only small numbers of animals. Proposals for collection centres will be discussed with the industry on Monday and published soon after.

Licences can only be issued once the Meat Hygiene Service has approved individual abattoirs. 24 hours notice of slaughter is already required for this, and slaughtering may therefore not begin before Tuesday, 6 March.