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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Foot-and-mouth 'to cost millions'
Beef cattle
There were 10.3 million cows in the UK in 2006
The latest foot-and-mouth outbreak is set to heap yet more millions in lost revenues on UK farmers, the National Farmers Union (NFU) warns.

July and August's outbreaks in Surrey cost the farming industry up to 80m, the NFU estimates.

But it warns that UK farmers will lose out on 1.8m a day in export revenues from the reintroduction of a nationwide ban on the movement of animals.

This cost does not include the impact on domestic sales.

2001's major-foot-and mouth outbreak cost the UK economy an estimated 8.5bn, with tourism and rural businesses suffering alongside agriculture.

'Enormous ramifications'

The renewed movement ban comes at a worse time for meat farmers than the previous one.

September is a key month in their calendar, with the majority of this year's lambs due to start going to slaughter for both home and export markets.

10.3 million cows
35 million sheep and lambs
5 million pigs
77% of UK land is deemed agricultural
Figures for 2006. Source: Defra

NFU president Peter Kendall said the latest outbreak would have "enormous" ramifications for farmers.

"At the weekend the whole industry breathed a collective sigh of relief that we had moved on," he said.

"This has set us right back."

'Square one'

Only once the outbreak is finally proven to be over will the full cost become clear.

But with just a month elapsed since the last infections, farmers across the country are inevitably concerned.

"We're back to square one essentially," said Andy Biggs, senior vice president of the British Cattle Veterinary Association.

"All farmers have to be very vigilant, keep their guard up and keep examining their stock.

"The worry will be that we may now have unidentified animals with food-and-mouth which are still yet to be discovered."

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