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The BBC's Richard Bilton
"45 thousand animals roam free on Dartmoor"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jane O'Brien in Datrmoor
"No link has yet been established"
 real 56k

Martin Howarth, National Farmers' Union
"Our hope is that this is the peak of the new cases we're going to get"
 real 28k

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown
"I cannot order people to put up the price of food"
 real 28k

Monday, 5 March, 2001, 16:29 GMT
Livestock back on the roads
Pigs being transported
The aim is to get more British meat into the food chain
Farmers in parts of Britain unaffected by foot-and-mouth disease have begun to move their livestock for slaughter.

It is hoped that a fresh supply of British meat entering the food chain will ease pressure on farmers and head off a shortage and potential price rises.

Agriculture officials revealed three new confirmed outbreaks in England on Monday, at Bishop Auckland in Co Durham and at Hatherleigh and Highampton in Devon, despite chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore's warning that 10 new cases should be expected daily.

A new case of foot-and-mouth disease was also confirmed at Moffat, in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland - the most northerly site so far.

The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 74.

The idea right now is about getting movement and to get back to normal

Nick Brown
Agriculture Minister
The news comes amid concern that the disease has spread to Dartmoor, raising the spectre that the 40,000 head of livestock that roam its open spaces will have to be slaughtered.

'Brisk' take-up

The take-up of licences for farmers to transport unaffected animals to approved abattoirs has been "brisk", with 45 in Lincolnshire alone.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown has refused to rule out government intervention on livestock prices, following speculation that farmers would fail to get a fair price for animals in the wake of the current crisis.

He said the market may take some time to get back to normal, including prices to farmers.

But he added: "I would expect the trade to be operating more normally as we get the scheme established."

Animals will be examined before they are transported and again at the abattoir to prevent the risk of any further outbreaks.

More vets

Mr Brown also said he hoped to get some financial relief to farmers by April after the European Commission said Britain can bring forward payments of "agrimonetary compensation" for the ongoing strength of sterling against the euro.

Meat in a butcher's shop
British meat supplies are running low
Maff have also revealed that they are likely to get the help of 30 vets from the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, as well as 130 private UK vets, as officials battle to trace thousands of animals, including 100,000 sheep.

Meanwhile, the French agriculture ministry has announced a 15-day ban on the export and movement of cattle, sheep and pigs.

Farmers accused

In Britain, four farmers have been accused of breaching special regulations introduced to curb the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

In Cumbria, Colin Hebson, of Chapel Farm, Cotehill, near Carlisle, is being prosecuted for allegedly moving cattle.

He appeared at Carlisle Magistrates Court on Monday morning, where his case was adjourned until 26 March.

Brian Adams, 52, of Greycott Farm, Croft Lane, Yarpole, Herefordshire appeared before Hereford's magistrates, charged with contravening foot-and-mouth orders, who adjourned his case until 22 March.

Christopher Rudge, 40, of Baysham Farm, Sellack, near Ross-on-Wye, and Peter Vaughan, 45, of Oakfields Farm, Kingsland, near Leominster, who are charged with the same offence, also had their cases adjourned in their absence.

Meanwhile the Royal Botanic Gardens at Ardingly, West Sussex, has blamed "irresponsible" visitors climbing fences to adjacent farms for its decision to close its Wakehurst Place site from Tuesday.

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