This statement was posted at 11:40am on Sunday 5th August 2007.
I have set up a cross-business project team as we manage our response to Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) being found at a beef-finishing unit in Surrey. We are well prepared for this, given that a robust set of industry-wide procedures were developed following the 2001 outbreak.
I would like to update you on the work that this project team have been doing and share some advice from Defra relating to on-farm biosecurity.
While the news last night from Defra that the strain may be linked to a pharmaceutical company in Surrey provides us with some hope that the outbreak may not spread widely, at this stage we must continue to be vigilant and take all possible precautionary measures.
Our FMD project team has spoken several times since Friday and we will set up a 'war room' at the Glasgow office from Monday where we can source information from the relevant bodies and share this with our membership, and our other stakeholders. Alan Taylor, our membership director, will lead this process.
It is important to be aware that the nearest First Milk farm is 25km away from the beef-finishing unit in Surrey, and there is currently no impact on our members, or our ability to supply customers.
However, we should all be ultra-cautious and cancel all non-essential farm visits. In practice this means that:
We are working closely with our hauliers and joint haulage partners to implement a uniform approach. While our hauliers are currently following the guidance as set out by Defra, we have put additional measures in place to ensure that tanker wheels and mudguards and tanker drivers' feet are disinfected as they come on and off farms. Our hauliers are also working around the clock to fit air vents to vehicles. Additionally, our creameries are implementing biosecurity measures.
We will continue to link closely with Defra, SEERAD and the Welsh Assembly in terms of advice for farmers, and keep you updated on developments.
Defra fact sheet with advice on preventing the introduction and spread of foot and mouth disease is attached below for your information.