SENATE PASSES RESOLUTION TO STOP IMPORTS OF USED AG EQUIPMENT
"MONTGOMERY, Ala.," The Alabama Senate passed a resolution Thursday asking the federal government to place a moratorium on the importation of used farm equipment from countries where cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been confirmed.
The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, passed without dissent Thursday. Rep. Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, said he expects the House to pass the same resolution.
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby has written Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman requesting the moratorium as well.
State Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bishop quarantined 17 containers of used tractors that arrived in the port of Mobile from England on March 9. Nearly 250 outbreaks have been reported in England since Feb. 20.
Bishop, who supports the legislative resolution, quarantined the cargo because no one could guarantee that foot-and-mouth disease was not present in the mud, hay or manure found in the containers and on the tractor tires.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has increased its scrutiny of travelers from Britain and other European points, but to date has not taken action to stop imports of used equipment.
The U.S. and Canada both have banned imports of meat and livestock from Europe. Canada also has banned imports of any used farm equipment from Europe.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious virus that infects cloven-hoofed animals such as sheep, pigs and cows. Although it is not always fatal to animals, it reduces their production of milk and meat. Infected animals usually develop blisters on their hooves and in their mouths.
Even though the disease does not affect humans, it is easily spread by people, the wind or cars that have had contact with the disease. It can be spread by contaminated hay, water and manure. In several European countries, entire herds have been destroyed in an attempt to confine the disease. There is no cure or treatment.
Foot-and-mouth disease has not been found in the U.S. since 1929, but Bishop said officials should not be complacent, especially since global trade is common place with most agricultural commodities.