Anxious wait after FMD outbreak at Pirbright

Farmers in County Roscommon are anxiously listening to news bulletins this week following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease adjacent to the Pirbright laboratory in Surrey in England.             The two suspected cases are of a strain similar to that used on the laboratories on site and both are within the 3 km exclusion area.   Speaking to Roscommon People this week, IFA Development Officer Adrian Leddy said, ‘Farmers are very concerned at the moment. There is no doubt that the announcement did send massive shockwaves over farmers. When they heard the announcement, all minds went back to 2001 and all the restrictions that were put in place then. It’s not so long ago and farmers remember the extent of the restrictions at that time. We are coming into the height of the sales season for sheep and cattle and farmers were beginning to worry that if they were locked up at this stage, the repercussions would be very serious.             ‘Everything here is working as normal. We have had numerous meetings with the Minister and the Department of Agriculture and we are glad that everything is in place and also this time we have the co-operation with Northern Ireland, so there is no movement of stock into Northern Ireland or southern Ireland and at least that is a positive thing compared to 2001.             ‘Everyone is listening attentively to all news bulletins in relation to any future outbreak. All are hoping that this outbreak will be contained in the one region. So far, the outbreaks have been in one region and that is cordoned off by UK officials.’             Asked if the current outbreak will have repercussions in terms of EU attitudes towards Brazilian beef, Mr. Leddy said, ‘We have seen the EU putting in place a total blanket ban on all imports from Britain and any movement from Britain and the same standards should apply for Brazilian imports into the EU.             ‘The EU should take note that other big states have followed suit in banning beef from south America, such as the US, Japan and Australia. It just shows how dangerous this is and what it can cause in terms of the national economy and the agriculture industry.’             The cause of the current outbreak has yet to be pinpointed, said Mr. Leddy. ‘As of now, it does look like it has come out of the laboratory or laboratories, but it’s not for definite how it has got out, so we await that and hope that there is no outbreak outside this region. If there were an outbreak outside this region it would be very worrying.’             Concluding, he warned all people visiting England or English tourists in Ireland to be very vigilant. ‘Anyone come and going and going on to a farm in the UK should take all precautions when they come back and any visitors coming back from England should take all necessary precautions on Irish farms.’