France contains outbreak

Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany informs EU farm ministers that France has “contained and mastered” its outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease

At an European Union Agriculture Council meeting on 19 March, Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany informed farm ministers that France has "contained and mastered" its outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Other than the case at Mayenne, there have been no further outbreaks of foot-and-mouth in mainland Europe. The number of cases of FMD has risen to about 350 in the UK.

In addition, Mr Glavany called for restrictions on French exports to be lessened on 27 March if no further cases of FMD had been found. EU's chief vets are scheduled to meet on 20 March to review the current containment measures banning exports from Britain and France and banning all livestock markets across all Member States.

At the meeting, Portugal, Holland and Belgium called for a vaccination programme under pressure from their farmers who are facing devastating losses due to the drop in export markets. Farm ministers rejected such calls and insisted that the current policy of isolating the disease by destroying suspected cases and restricting livestock movement is the most effective way to contain the outbreak.

However, EU farms ministers agreed that they would consent to a vaccination scheme as a last resort to stem the spread of the disease. In the past, farm ministers have argued that any immunisation scheme would be too expensive and cost Member States their current "foot-and-mouth-free" status for a period of time in the world trade markets.

Dutch minister Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst voiced concern slaughtering and destroying thousands of healthy livestock which could have been vaccinated is unethical. The Netherlands lifted their animal movement ban imposed after the outbreak of FMD in France at midnight 18 March to allow farmers to transport animals to slaughterhouses.

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