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Sat, 4 Aug 2007

Foot and mouth

Woo! Another farm has been found to be infected with foot and mouth disease. Predictably, farmers hundreds of miles away are already whinging about compensation and politicians are trying to spin things their way.

Here are a few facts about foot and mouth disease, and about farming in the UK:

  • The disease is only rarely fatal in animals.
  • Animals that have recovered can go on to be just as productive as if they were never infected.
  • It is almost impossible for humans to catch it.
  • Vaccines are available.

That clearly demonstrates that the response last time was totally unnecessary and out of all proportion to the "problem" it tried to solve.

  • The 2001 outbreak cost the UK £8 billion, plus a great deal of aggravation for normal people who were restricted from doing normal things like going for a walk in the countryside.
  • The whole of the agriculture industry in the UK, including the arable sector, is worth only £9 billion. Livestock farming is just 45% of that.

So, the cost of the unnecessary response to the last outbreak was equivalent to twice the yearly output of the entire livestock industry. If we assume that 10% of livestock farms were affected (which I am sure is a huge overestimate) then each one cost the nation 20 years worth of their contribution to society. No industry is worth that level of subsidy.

Posted at 12:42 by David Cantrell
keywords: politics | rant
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