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The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"With the summer far advanced, foot-and-mouth still has not been eradicated"
 real 56k

Jacqui Mounsey, Cumbrian famer hit by foot-and-mouth
"We are being told what we have to do"
 real 56k

Shadow agriculture minister Tim Yeo
"The government should have been aware of the cost some time ago"
 real 28k

British Veterinary Association's Peter Jinman
"It's right and proper to draw breath and have a look at these costs"
 real 56k

Monday, 23 July, 2001, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Blair halts farm disease clean-up
Farm restrictions due to disease
Capping spending for individual farms could not be ruled out.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has ordered a halt to the final cleansing of farms affected by foot-and-mouth disease amid fears the total bill may reach 800m.

The government will continue "preliminary" cleansing and disinfecting but will halt the "secondary" cleansing, which goes on prior to re-stocking to prevent a recurrence of the disease, while a review takes place.

A memo issued by the government's co-ordination centre set up to tackle the disease revealed that Mr Blair had personally demanded a check on "unacceptable" spending.

Mr Blair was reported to have been told the disinfections were costing up to 2m a day, and as much as 10 times as high as on affected farms elsewhere in Europe.

Foot-and-mouth facts
Total cases: 1,880
Slaughtered: 3,588,000
New cases Sunday: 4
Awaiting slaughter: 23,000
Awaiting disposal: 10,000
The move has been attacked by the Conservatives as a "death sentence" on beleaguered farmers.

But the government has also stepped up its efforts to tackle the disease "hot spot" in North Yorkshire with the creation of a special "bio-security zone".

A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was possible items unrelated to cleansing were being included in the bill.

He said: "The government is not required to pay for [secondary cleansing] but so far has been doing so.

Own expense

"The basis on which the government pays for this is being reviewed for a number of reasons.

"It does not prevent farmers carrying out this work at their own expense."

To date only 1,700 farms out of over 8,000 have received final cleansing and disinfection and only 75m has been paid out. But the estimates of the eventual cost prompted the review.


The prime minister has indicated that six-figure sums per farm are unacceptable

Government memo
A spokesman for the National Farmers' Union said it was "angry" about the suspension when "every necessary resource" had been promised to fight the disease.

The union is demanding an immediate resumption of final cleansing and disinfection.

"This will leave hundreds of farmers in limbo, unable to plan re-stocking and rebuild their businesses.

"It also sends a very bad message to the farming industry when the emphasis should be on disease control measures."

Crucial delay

Conservative agriculture spokesman Tim Yeo said the agricultural community was suffering "incredible anxiety" and demanded the review be carried out in the next few days.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "A delay of more than a few days will be a death sentence for many farmers who depend on this cleanup operation in order to get back into business."
Clean up at infected farm
Cleaning and disinfection costs may be limited

But no efforts will be spared in the so-called "Settle cluster" in North Yorkshire with the county now reaching 120 confirmed cases.

Speaking in Leeds, minister for farming and the food industry, Lord Whitty, said vehicles visiting the 2,700 farms in the zone would be licensed with strict cleaning and disinfecting.

He said: "The outbreak in North Yorkshire is of great concern as it is close to very large pig herds and is threatening the disease-free area south of the Humber.

"We are now the stage where stringent observing of bio-security could bring an earlier end to the disease.

"We need everyone, not just farmers but delivery drivers and silage-makers to take every precaution."

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See also:

23 Jul 01 | Wales
Concerns at disease ash removal
26 Jun 01 | Wales
Vets test for virus on Beacons
22 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Foot-and-mouth: A moving target
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