Government accepts FMD recommendations

The government has accepted all 26 of the main recommendations made by Sir Iain Anderson, following the 2007 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

The government has accepted all 26 of the main recommendations made by Sir Iain Anderson following the 2007 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

Defra secretary Hilary Benn has published the government's response to Sir Iain's review, which found that "in analysing how the 2007 outbreak was handled, with its innumerable, interwoven decisions and actions, we found much to applaud, along with some deficiencies. On balance, the positive easily outweighs the negative."

The recommendations focused on eight main lessons, Defra said. These included: maintaining vigilance, being prepared, reacting with speed and certainty, explaining policies, plans and practices, respecting local knowledge, risk assessment and cost benefit analysis, data and information management systems, basing decisions on best available science.

Benn said: "I am grateful to Sir Iain for his review and for his recognition of how government and the livestock industry tackled the outbreak together. However, even though most aspects were handled well, I acknowledge that there are always lessons to learn and ways we can do better."

The move was welcomed as good news by the National Farmers' Union (NFU). But president Peter Kendall said: "We need to make sure that the fine words in the response turn in to real action to ensure we genuinely learn the lessons from the 2007 experience."

Kendall said that the NFU remains concerned about the government's long-term commitment to research and development, in particular at the Institute of Animal Health (IAH), and also their commitment to funding improvements to livestock database systems.

"It is now vital that, once and for all, government invests in the livestock data systems to ensure this is put right. We are already involved in discussions with Defra on this issue and we will be looking for a clear strategy from them on how they are going to deliver this in the coming months," he added.