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:
  1. It was estimated that it would be cheaper to clear away livestock occasionally than to vaccinate permanently.
  2. 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:
  1. The country in which the animal was born
  2. The country in which the animal lived
  3. The country in which the animal was slaughtered
  4. 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 age.
  • 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.