Scottish lambs still to be burned

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Despite the lifting of some Defra restrictions, aimed at controlling FMD, hundreds of thousands of lambs raised in the Scottish uplands will go to incineration rather than being offered as food, their lives wasted. There is also a welfare cull in Wales beginning next week.

BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme on Wednesday 10th Oct discussed welfare slaughter. The cull project will cost the Scottish Executive £6million, it’s estimated. Jim Maclaren, president of the National Farmers’ Union in Scotland, thinks that the responsibility for that cost lies with Defra, despite devolution. He said the lambs are worth eating, and argues that the NFUS has been working with a range of bodies to resolve the problem, including sale and not just cull-and-burn. 

The difficulty with sale for food was emphasised by Alan Young who farms in the Cairngorms, pointed out that we’re over-subscribed for lamb in this country, which is why lamb producers rely so much on export to make a profit. Another farmer reckoned that supermarkets might get 45% profit on the retail price. Most supermarkets in the UK have not, however, felt able to take on these tiny light lambs as a product.

This morning’s Farming Today investigated the issue of meat imports from countries such as Brazil, where Foot and Mouth Disease is endemic. There seems to be strange difference in policy by the EU which allows Brazilian meat to be traded, while UK meat is banned following a small number of outbreaks.

You can listen again to these Radio 4 programmes.

Vaccination is the key issue that the BBC forgot. Immunisation to ring-fence all outbreaks could have helped prevent spread, and thus reduce the prolonged period of restrictions. Perhaps if Defra had used vaccines as soon as possible, we would not have this situation now.

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