NFU president criticises FMD handling

The president of the National Farmers Union welcomed the government handling of last year's Foot and Mouth Disease but pointed out that the outbreak shouldn't have happened.

Giving evidence to the Anderson Inquiry, Peter Kendall, said: "Compared to the 2001 outbreak, this one was handled much better and many of the lessons have been learned. But there were a number of factors that made it objectively much easier to deal with. It was detected earlier, there had been few animal movements, and it was therefore localised."

Kendall questioned whether the authorities had done too much this time and the measures were disaproportionate considering there were only eight infected premises confined to a small area in Surrey. The prolonged restrictions throughout the country he said has cost the farmers more than £100m and the public purse £47m.

"We think there could be a better way. If we had an effective computerised animal tracing system, we could instantly see where animals from the infected area had moved to and restrictions could be placed there while the rest of the country could be freed up," he said. "Sadly we don't have an effective system at the moment."

Kendall also expressed concern about how devolution was affecting the issue. "Decisions on animal health issues should be science based and follow risk assessments. When different decisions are taken in Englan