Foot and Mouth Disease
35. The first case of foot and mouth disease was
discovered at an abattoir in Essex on 20 February 2001. Over the
following months a total of 2,030 cases were confirmed across
the United Kingdom. Movement restrictions were applied across
large areas of the country, and exports of British livestock were
banned. Livestock was slaughtered on 10,512 farms.
A total of 4,202,304 animals were slaughtered on infected premises,
contiguous premises or other situations considered to be 'dangerous
contacts', and a further 2,048,769 animals were slaughtered under
the Livestock (Welfare) Disposal Scheme.
|A timeline of foot and mouth disease
|20 February 2001
||Foot and mouth disease discovered in a pig at an abattoir in Essex.
|21 February 2001
||European Commission confirmed a temporary export ban of meat and livestock products from the United Kingdom.
|23 February 2001
||FMD confirmed in pigs in Heddon-on-the-Wall, now regarded as the primary case.
Livestock movements suspended initially for one week in the United Kingdom.
|27 February 2001
||Limited restrictions imposed on the use of footpaths.
|6 March 2001
||Special movement restrictions introduced to allows slaughtering to recommence.
|9 March 2001
||MAFF announced a 'local' livestock movement scheme to allow the movement of livestock for welfare reasons.
|20 March 2001
||Army logistics teams deployed in Cumbria and Devon.
|22 March 2001
||Welfare of Livestock (Disposal) Scheme launched.
|1 April 2001
||Highest weekly total of cases recorded in week ending 1 April, 303 confirmed cases.
|9 August 2001
||Announcement of the "Lessons Learned", Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, and the Royal Society Inquiry into Infectious Diseases in Livestock .
|23 August 2001
||New outbreak began in the Hexham area.
|30 September 2001
||Final case confirmed in the United Kingdom.
|14 January 2002
||Northumberland reclassified as foot and mouth disease free, the last county in the United Kingdom to be reclassified, following completion of serological testing.
|21 January 2002
||The United Kingdom regained its foot and mouth disease-free status.
|5 February 2002
||Rules on the re-opening of livestock markets announced.
36. The long-term harm caused by foot and mouth disease is not
yet clear. But it will be the result in part of the diminution
of the stock of animals in the country, in part of the financial
losses suffered particularly by those whose animals were not actually
infected but who were affected by the movement bans and export
restrictions, and above all of the effect on the reputation of
British livestock farming and of its products. Exeter University
has reported that "the 2001 FMD epidemic hit just when there
were signs that the agricultural recession had bottomed out. Had
it not occurred there is no doubt that farm incomes would have
risen. ... Work carried out ... for Devon County Council estimated
farm-level losses of between £1,348 and £12,057, depending
on farm type and location".
Moreover the damage may well extend beyond farming: what the foot
and mouth outbreak made abundantly clear was the links between
tourism and farming, as tourists were dissuaded from visiting
the British countryside first by the closure of footpaths by local
authorities immediately after the beginning of the outbreak, and
later by the images of burning carcasses shown by media all around
37. We have published a report into illegal meat imports.
We do not repeat those recommendations here, but they are relevant
to the future of agriculture in the United Kingdom.