This whole foot-and-mouth disease is a hoax... It's BS.
First we had the ESB and now the fièvre aphteuse (in French). So the outcome is that all the meatstuff that currently makes up the bulk of Western Europe's agricultural output gets hit. But the REAL reason these farm plagues have been spun out of control by the media is purely POLITICAL: Germany is tired of footing the bill for Southern Europe (read France)'s mom-and-pop farms... The so-called CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) is a costly boondoggle that won't be sustainable once Poland and other Eastern European countries join the EU --in 2004. Problem is, farmers are a troublesome constituency and, even though they merely account for no more than 3% of the EU's workforce, political leaders --both leftist and rightist-- don't have the b.... to tell them the truth, that is "It's OVER guys, you'd better close your farm biz and go to the cities.... plenty of good jobs await you --burger flippers, shoeshining, cabbies, you name it!"
Part of the reason for the politicos' pussyfooting is Europe's gerrymandering that dates back to the XIXth century when the countryside was granted much more deputies and senators than the (proletarian) big cities...
Hence the current plagues that swirl over Europe's agribusiness are a GODSEND: it'll streamline the whole sector. Here're a few key data:
(1 Hectare = 2.4710 Acres)
The U.S. has about 2 million farms over more than 420 millions of "hectares" whereas Europe has more than 7 million farms over less than 135 millions of "hectares"... Get the picture?
Add to that the cost of modernizing the Polish agribusiness (to make it compliant with the EU's health criteria --whatever that means!) and the cost of building up the European army (Eurocopter, Euro-heavy-carrier [a super C-130],...) and you get enough clues to see why it's time for the EU to pull the plug on Subsidized Cowtown.
Of course, the Germans could have done it the blunt way and tell public opinion that "enough is enough" but such an open move would have had a disastrous PR impact as the French would have accused the Germans of wrecking the very basis of the European Union.... But what can we do about an "Act of God", eh?