Twenty years after he outbreak of foot and mouth disease wreaked havoc through the British farming sector, Janet Finch-Saunders MS – the Shadow Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs – said:
“In 2001, foot and mouth disease plunged Welsh and British agriculture and rural tourism into a crisis from which some businesses and people never recovered, and there some parallels between that crisis and the one Covid has brought us.
“We saw just how fast years and sometimes generations of work could be wiped out, and those of us who at other times find ourselves fortunate enough to live in or near rural areas saw the devastation the measures taken to prevent spread of foot and mouth had on animals and lives. Yes, farmers did restock and normality returned, but people were changed. Families were changed. Businesses changed. Nothing was quite the same again.
“Maybe it’s an instinctive thing in people, but I certainly try to take some sort of positive from a crisis. The positives I can think of are that those without much knowledge of rural Wales learnt more about it and how intrinsic it is to our country, and that it reinforced just how fragile the farming life is, and how much we depend on our farmers.”
The image shows Janet Finch-Saunders at a dairy farm before lockdowns were interoduced.