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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Foot and Mouth - remembering last time

The news that an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease has been discovered in a farm in Surrey prompts memories of 2001.

That outbreak led to mass cullings of cattle as the disease spread around the country. I was a parliamentary candidate in Wantage, Oxfordshire at the time. We were gearing up for a May election but the spread of the disease had led to the partial closure of much of the countryside. Restrictions were in place on footpaths for example and it was feared an election campaign would severly hamper efforts to control and eradicate the disease. Wantage is a semi-rural constituency - much of it is countryside - and so this was a live issue for us.

The local elections were postponed to June, for which the General Election was called, and the disease was finally controlled.

This time around it appears that government and the farming industry have learned lessons from 2001. The immediate ban on livestock movements is one example. It is to be hoped that the disease is controlled quickly and effectively.

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