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The BBC's Richard Bilton
"It will need more than just flames to deal with this disaster"
 real 56k

The BBC's Niall Dickson
"There's mounting concern at how long it has taken to kill the animals"
 real 56k

Tim Yeo MP, Shadow Agriculture Minister
"It's spiralling worse out of control each day"
 real 28k

Nick Utting, National Farmers Union Cumbria
"They must proceed with the cull as urgently as they possibly can"
 real 28k

Monday, 19 March, 2001, 18:09 GMT
Chief vet stands firm on cull
Slaughtered sheep
Jim Scudamore says the mass slaughter will continue
Farmers in Cumbria have been told the slaughter of up to half a million healthy animals is necessary to halt the spread of foot-and-mouth disesase.

The warning came from Chief Vet Jim Scudamore who was given a slow hand clap by angry protesters when he arrived for a meeting with farming leaders in Carlisle on Monday.

Up to half a million animals within a two-mile (3km) radius of infected farms are set to be culled - even if they show no symptoms of the disease.

There are clear messages from farmers and vets. Communication needs to be improved

Jim Scudamore

Following the meeting, Mr Scudamore pledged to press ahead with the slaughter saying: "It hasn't changed my mind about what should be done but we have to reflect on how it is being done.

"There are clear messages from farmers and vets. Communication needs to be improved.

"But it remains the ministry's view that the removal of animals from within the 3km limit is necessary.

This is all based on hysteria, Tony Blair wants an election and he wants to be seen to be doing something.

Margaret Smith, farmer's wife
"The strategy is to keep those areas which are clear of infection clear - places like East Anglia, west Wales and Scotland, north of the Firth of Forth."

But in a bid to appease some farmers, Mr Scudamore disclosed he was considering pleas to exclude some of the county's pedigree flocks from the slaughter.

The government's latest offensive to tackle the outbreak came as figures confirmed eleven more cases of foot-and-mouth, taking the total number of cases to 337.

Cumbria is the worst affected county with 86 confirmed outbreaks while neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway has 49 cases.

Asked why Devon farmers had escaped a similar cull to their Cumbrian colleagues, Mr Scudamore said the difference was the "sheer weight of infection" in Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway, which have together accounted for 134 of the 337 cases.

'Political expediency'

Mr Scudamore told farmers in Cumbria the government was drafting in hundreds of student vets to help contain the disease.

But the mass cull has provoked the ire of many farmers who are threatening to fight the measures.

Margaret Smith, a farmer's wife from Gretna in Scotland, said: "Is this based on epidemiology or political thoughts?

"This is all based on hysteria, Tony Blair wants an election and he wants to be seen to be doing something."

Cumbrian farmers' banner
Protesters in Carlisle make their feelings clear
Retired farmer Anthony Ogle, from Carlisle, said: "We should just let this run its course, animals don't die from foot-and-mouth.

"There would be a drop in meat and a drop in milk for a while but nothing compared to the cost that this is going to cost the country."

Farmer David Handley, who was at the forefront of last year's fuel protests, criticised Mr Scudamore for refusing to spend "10 minutes" with members of his Farmers For Action group.

The government has lost control of this and it's about time they faced up to it.

Farmers' leader David Handley
He said: "I have got no alternative now if our members say they are not going to have their healthy livestock slaughtered.

"We have no alternative but to stand in the gate with them and stop that from happening."

On Monday Maff announced the first suspected case of foot-and-mouth in Surrey - 30 sheep on a farm near Horley are expected to be slaughtered.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown
Mr Brown: Meeting with EU ministers
Agriculture Minister Nick Brown again insisted on Monday that the government will not abandon rural Britain.

He said ministers were standing "shoulder to shoulder" with farmers during the foot-and-mouth crisis and he called for solidarity from the whole country.

Mr Brown was speaking as he arrived in Brussels to update EU farm ministers on the latest efforts to eradicate the outbreak.

No decisions will be taken at the regular monthly EU ministerial meeting, but ministers have been keen to hear how mass slaughter might affect the disease's spread.

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See also:

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