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The BBC's Robert Pigott
"Animals stay on farms, eat expensive feed and lose their value"
 real 56k

Ben Gill, National Farmers Union
"This is a first step"
 real 56k

Simon Lyster, Director of the Wildlife Trust
"It is a terrible blow for the Wildlife Trust"
 real 28k

Chris Bostock, Director Institute of Animal Health
"The contacts are largely animal to animal movement"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 March, 2001, 12:12 GMT
Livestock ban to be relaxed
Police block a farm infected with food-and-mouth
Special licences could see livestock vehicles back on the roads
The government is to ease the ban on the movement of livestock to help reduce economic hardships to farmers hit by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Ministers are to give details of a scheme which will allow the limited transportation of livestock from farms to abattoirs from Monday.

Farmers are to be granted licences to help ensure the transportation of animals is carried out safely.

At least some British meat is going back into the food chain and that's enormously important

Tony Blair
Tony Blair said the move would bring a "considerable amount of respite" for farmers.

Thirty-seven cases of the disease have been confirmed including new cases confirmed on Friday in Kirkcudbright in Scotland, Bromham in Wiltshire, Penrith in Cumbria, Dinnington in Northumberland and Longtown near Carlisle.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said that more meat will have to be imported from abroad because of the meat shortages caused by the ban on livestock movement.

The agency has also ordered greater BSE-related checks on meat imports after remnants of spinal cord were found in two consignments of beef from Germany and The Netherlands.

Supermarket chain Asda said one of its largest stores - in Wakefield, West Yorkshire - was cleared out of pork and lamb.

Blunts Farm in Wootton, Northamptonshire
The burning of carcasses continues
Depleted supplies of meat around the UK have prompted fears that prices could rise.

The National Farmers' Union fears the crisis could cost the industry up to 775m if the disease is not brought under control by May.

New cases have been found in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and there are fears the disease could have crossed over to the Irish Republic.

Emergency measures
Livestock movement ban extended
Horse racing suspended
Ireland v Wales rugby postponed
National parks closed
Access to Scottish Mountains suspended
Reservoir sites in Wales closed to public
Marwell Zoo closed

Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore said five to six new cases were appearing each day.

But the government still believes that all the cases being discovered can be traced back to livestock movements before the standstill imposed last Friday.

Speaking to business leaders in Cardiff, the prime minister said the ban on animal movements had prevented the current outbreak from spreading in the same way as the disease did in 1967.

The 1967 outbreak "was a very serious outbreak which went on for many months", he said.

"One of the reasons for that was at that time there was no immediate block put on the movement of animals."

Vehicles from Britain disinfected as a precaution
Vehicles from Britain disinfected as a precaution
And Mr Blair insisted the licensed slaughter scheme, details of which will be announced on Friday, was "enormously important".

He said: "Obviously there will be a limit to what we can do because they will have to be licensed under very strict conditions but it will mean that at least some British meat is going back into the food chain and that's enormously important."

Horse racing has been suspended in Britain until 7 March and the prestigious Cheltenham Festival, due to be held in two weeks, is under threat.

British farmers have killed and burned an estimated 25,000 cattle, sheep and pigs, while France is planning to destroy at least double that number.

In Germany, the government has ordered the slaughter of all sheep and goats brought into the country from Britain.

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See also:

02 Mar 01 | Europe
France to ban Irish livestock
02 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Cold spell link to foot-and-mouth
02 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Blair offers hope to farmers
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