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CARWYN JONES WELCOMES INDEPENDENT INQUIRY ON FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE

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Assembly rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones has welcomed the announcement from the UK government of an independent...
Assembly rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones has welcomed the announcement from the UK government of an independent inquiry into lessons learnt from the foot and mouth outbreak (see LGCnet).

Carwyn Jones said: 'Foot and mouth disease has had a devastating impact on the wellbeing of the farming community and wider rural economy in Wales and elsewhere in Great Britain.

'Throughout the crisis the priority has been to control and eradicate the disease. There has been considerable sacrifice by those in the farming community and significant resources and costs deployed by government in responding to foot and mouth.

'I welcome this independent review on the handling of the current foot and mouth outbreak in Great Britain. Difficult decisions have often had to be made about controlling the spread of the disease. It is right therefore that there should be an independent assessment to learn the lessons should we have to face major animal disease outbreak in the future.

'I recognise that many in Wales have called for a full public inquiry into the handling of the FMD epidemic. A formal judicial inquiry would take a very long time to report. What is needed is a forward-looking assessment of issues that is delivered quickly, that identifies lessons to be learnt and recommendations for action. That is the remit for the inquiry.

'The inquiry team will be reporting formally to the UK government and, equally, to the national assembly administration and the Scottish executive. Given the respective responsibilities of the national assembly and the former ministry for agriculture, fisheries and food, the story of foot and mouth in Wales is inextricably bound up with the wider GB context.

'I will be asking the team to give full attention to the Welsh aspects and the national assembly's working relationship with DEFRA and the UK government. I look forward to co-operating wholeheartedly with the workings of the independent inquiry team.'

The UK government also announced that the Royal Society is to undertake an independent scientific study into the transmission, prevention and control of epidemic outbreaks of infectious diseases in livestock in Great Britain. An independent commission is also being set up for England to examine measures whereby farming contributes to a sustainable rural economy.

Carwyn Jones said: 'We do need to fully understand the science behind the origin of animal diseases and how these might be effectively combated. As to the policy commission on the future of farming in England, I have already issued for consultation the draft report from the farming futures group on the direction we believe that can deliver a sustainable farming industry in Wales.'

NOTE

The Rural Recovery Plan was launched by the National Assembly on 26 July. The draft report from the Farming Futures Group was issued for consultation on 13 July.

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