Lancs farmers face new foot-and-mouth crisis

First published in News Chorley Citizen: Photograph of the Author by

Lancashire farmers face the prospect of another crisis after a case of foot and mouth was confirmed for the first time since the disastrous outbreak of 2001.

News of a foot and mouth case in southern England has raised horrific memories of the 2001 disaster which saw thousands of cattle and sheep destroyed.

The Government has launched emergency measures after cattle at a farm near Guildford, Surrey, tested positive. All 60 cattle on the farm will be culled.

A nationwide ban on the movement of livestock, including cattle and pigs, has been imposed.

Farmers across the county are bracing themselves for a new foot and mouth epidemic, the first time since the disastrous outbreak six years ago.

Debby Reynolds, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, confirmed the outbreak after samples were taken from the farm.

She said: "We are trying to form a picture of where the infection may have come from but at the moment it's very early stages.

"It is the absolute priority at the moment to prevent further spread, and piece together information about how it might have got there in the first place."

The foot and mouth outbreak which swept the UK in 2001 devastated the farming community in Lancashire and Cumbria and led to the slaughter and burning of six million animals.

Lancashire was among the first places affected when, in the February of that year, livestock at Ollerton Farm, Withnell, was found to have the disease. Farmer Arthur Pooley had to slaughter 1,000 sheep.

But it was not enough to prevent the spread of the disease and within weeks more and more farms in the county displayed 'No entry - Foot and Mouth' signs at their entrances and buckets of disinfectant by their gates.

The army was drafted in to help with the culling of infected animals and those that might have come into contact with the disease.

Many troops from local Territorial Army units helped with the disaster.

Footpaths were closed and the countryside became a no-go area.

Withnell Landfill Site in Withnell, Chorley, owned by waste company Biffa, was used to dispose of animals.

Thirty seven farms in East Lancashire were hit by foot and mouth.

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