The consequences of FMD for cattle are not exactly welfare friendly and for humanitarian reasons it is justifiable
to kill an animal that suffers from this disease on a cattle-breeding farm.
We do feel it is irresponsible that with the current policy healthy (hobby) animals also suffer the risk to be cleared away and also that cattle in organic and free-range cattle-breeding farms have a chance to be killed preventatively.
The Dutch policy concerning Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is linked to the European policy.
In 1991 the EU took the decision to stop vaccination for two reasons.
It was estimated that it would be cheaper to clear away livestock occasionally than to vaccinate permanently.
Without vaccination it was possible to export meat to countries outside the EU.
For this reason we argue in favour of The Netherlands putting in action the following measures.
Vaccination for all cattle (Artiodactyls) at the organic and / or free-range cattle-breeding farms.
Vaccination for all Artiodactyls kept for hobby, on a voluntarily basis.
Complete trace ability of meat, with 4 identifying marks.
The country in which the animal was born
The country in which the animal lived
The country in which the animal was slaughtered
The country in which the meat was processed
Of course it is recommendable that a consumer only buys meat of an animal that, when alive, hasn't been dragged across the borders.
Mentioning on the packing of meat the age in weeks
of the animal that was slaughtered. People have to
have the choice to buy meat from an animal of a certain
Mentioning on the packing of meat a score on a welfare
scale of the farm on which the animal lived. This
welfare scale is based on some twenty features that
determine the well-being of the animal. The higher
the score, the higher the well-being of the animal
during its life.
The Dutch Government is the keeper of the vaccine against
FMD. For this reason it is impossible for a Dutch cattle
farmer or a veterinarian to vaccinate without the approval
of the government. To vaccinate or not is therefore a
political decision on a national level.
The consequences of vaccination for the national export
trade depend on the actions of the other EU members.
When the Netherlands solely would decide to start vaccinating
organic and free-range cattle against FMD, mixing of
organic and free-range meat at one side and factory
farming meat on the other side needs to be prevented.
At this moment, sometimes organic meat is sold as if
it was factory farming meat, when all other commercial
channels are closed.
If the Netherlands would want to reorganize the cattle-breeding
industry with the intention of the well-being of animals,
the most effective way would be to abandon their export
position. This also offers the possibility of vaccinating
all animals, and is the best way to meet the demand
of an ecologically responsible procedure. When factory
farmers don't agree with this procedure, this demand
should definitely be enforced to organic and free-range
cattle-breeders, because the transportation of cattle
and meat are in conflict with ecological principles.
They would be able to set the right example.
For what about the Artiodactyls living in 'the wild', we argue in favour
of a reserved policy. In the wild, let FMD and Swine Fever
go their natural course. This way, the populations keep
up to standard and the viability of these animals is tested
in a natural way. People who keep
animals as a hobby and zoos, should be able to have the
choice to vaccinate their animals.