David Ruffley - MP for Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Needham Market

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Bird flu hits Suffolk

160,000 turkeys are currently being slaughtered in Suffolk. This is Britainís worst outbreak of bird flu and it has happened 50 miles down the road from my constituency in Holton near Lowestoft. The cull is set to continue around the clock and may not finish until tomorrow.

Local people have every right to be concerned. There is a risk that the bird flu may have passed to the wild bird population. If this is the case bird flu could be a massive continuing problem.

Thatís bad news for East Angliaís hard working poultry farmers. When this happened in France a number of countries axed trade with them. If there is an export ban on live birds and meat it could cost Britain up to £370 million. Suffolk jobs and livelihoods would be on the line.

The Government response to the crisis has been a shambles. Tests for bird flu only started on Friday Ė three days after turkeys first started dying. Key disease controls were not put in place until Saturday evening. How on earth was this allowed to happen? The risk of the disease passing to humans is low and we must all keep our heads and not panic. Demand for poultry is bound to fall and farmers could face a disastrous drop in income. I just hope the Government shows them the support they deserve.

Posted in Bird Flu on 5 February 2007†by†David Ruffley

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