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The BBC's Lucy Atherton
"Many flocks are some distance from farms"
 real 56k

The BBC's Robert Piggott
"Farmers say they're running out of time"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jane O'Brien:
Latest update on the situation on Dartmoor
 real 56k

The BBC's Christine McGourty
"There are no plans to clear any animals from Dartmoor"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 10:39 GMT
Farmers want disease rules eased
Lambs
The call coincides with the start of the lambing season
Farmers' leaders are appealing to the government to relax rules on animal movement so pregnant ewes can be moved to suitable lambing sites.

The UK's sheep farmers say there is a risk of ewes and their lambs dying unless they can be moved to safety.

Their call comes as controversial plans are being finalised for the first horse-race meeting in seven days at Lingfield Park.

Further outbreaks identified in County Durham and Devon means the number of confirmed foot-and-mouth cases around the UK has risen to 81, with a second suspected case under investigation on Dartmoor.


The European Union has banned livestock markets for "at least a week" to try to contain an outbreak of the disease.

The EU's veterinary panel also extended a ban on the export of meat, livestock and milk products from the UK, where the outbreak originated.

However, the UK Government is planning to extend a scheme to get healthy stock into slaughterhouses.

That scheme has until now mostly involved larger consignments to around 200 approved slaughterhouses but it is now proposed that holding centres, most of them markets, can handle animals from small-scale farms.

Only cattle and sheep will be processed as pigs are far more prone to the foot-and-mouth infection.

Government vets believe the foot and mouth outbreak should peak within the next few days before starting to decline.

The latest outbreaks at Kirkandrews on Eden in Cumbria - one involving sheep and cattle, the other involving sheep - are close to an area in Cumbria already affected.

The armed forces, which use large areas of Dartmoor for training purposes, have been told to suspend their exercises as investigations continue at a farm near Two Bridges, where an outbreak was confirmed on Sunday.

The National Farmers' Union expects Maff to confirm a cull of animals on farms near the confirmed case.

The union believes it will be the largest slaughter and incineration seen so far.

The chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore has rejected speculation that the current policy of slaughtering thousands of farm animals had been unnecessary.

The NFU's request that the UK Government relax its restrictions comes as the lambing season gets underway.


We have some very urgent cases where we need to move animals

NFU vice-president Tim Bennett
As many as one-in-five ewes need help during lambing and concern is centred on those animals on remote pastures likely to need help.

The danger in moving them is that this runs the risk of other flocks being cross-infected.

NFU vice-president Tim Bennett said: "We have some very urgent cases where we need to move animals."

He said advice was being sought from the chief veterinary officer on how restrictions could be relaxed without hygiene and safety being compromised.

The decision to resume horse-racing at Lingfield on Wednesday has provoked a row between the National Farmers' Union and the horse racing industry over whether it is safe for the sport to re-start.

Farmers' leaders have appealed for the racecourses to be kept shut for a further week, but on Tuesday evening, with the backing of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Jockey Club said Wednesday's meeting at Lingfield in Surrey would go ahead.


Farmers are desperate to get their livestock to market
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.

Mr Brown also said he hoped to get some financial relief to farmers by April.

But GMB union bosses fear that 60,000 farm workers would lose jobs unless normal trade was resumed soon.

A spokesman for the Transport and General Workers' Union said on Tuesday evening that 350 workers from the abattoir run by Welsh Country Foods had been laid off indefinitely, due to a foot-and-mouth case on the Gaerwen estate, Anglesey, where the company is based.

Thousands of Leeds United supporters who travelled to Spain for Tuesday's Champions League game against Real Madrid had to walk through disinfectant at Madrid airport because of the disease crisis.

The Spanish authorities imposed the rule on all visitors from the UK and fans accepted the need to disinfect their footwear with good grace.

Animals at the Alton Towers theme park were slaughtered on Tuesday amid fears that visitors to the venue could contribute to the disease spreading.

A cow, six sheep, three pigs and eight goats were destroyed.

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See also:

05 Mar 01 | Other Sports
French runners set to miss Cheltenham
07 Mar 01 | Other Sports
Racing returns to mixed reaction
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