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Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will introduce a Sow Welfare Disposal scheme. (158294)

We have no plans to introduce a Sow Welfare Disposal scheme. Welfare issues arising from foot and mouth disease (FMD) and bluetongue control measures are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis through the use of special movement licences or measures to support the farmer in their duty of care towards their animals. This includes the provision of advice, temporary shelter and access to supplementary feed.

We are working to ensure that sufficient slaughter capacity is available, particularly for farmers in the bluetongue restriction zone, and would urge farmers facing welfare problems to move animals to slaughter wherever practicable and permitted by disease control restrictions.

Lifting movement restrictions on a phased basis is the best way to alleviate welfare problems facing the industry. On 12 October, DEFRA announced the intention to lift the FMD protection zone in Surrey on Wednesday 17 October. DEFRA also plans to lift all movement restrictions in England, outside the FMD risk area, to coincide with this lifting of the protection zone. These changes will be made provided that there is no change to the disease situation.