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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
UK pork exports to resume
Piglets on a pig farm
It is "desperately welcome" news for the industry
Some British pork meat can be exported for the first time since the foot-and-mouth outbreak began, EU officials have decided.

Counties which have not had a case of the disease and which do not adjoin high risk areas will be able to export pork and bacon from 22 October.

Cleared counties
All Scotland except Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders
East Yorkshire
Lincolnshire
Norfolk
Suffolk
Cambridgeshire
Nottinghamshire
Bedfordshire
Hertfordshire
Buckinghamshire
Surrey
East Sussex
West Sussex
Buckinghamshire
Hampshire
Dorset
Isle of Wight
Gwynedd
Conwy
Denbigh
Flint
Wrexham

The decision was made on Wednesday by the European Union's Standing Veterinary Committee.

Secretary of State Margaret Beckett welcomed the decision but warned that Britain must not "drop our guard" against the disease.

"We still need to bear down on the disease in the High Risk and At Risk areas and to maintain good biosecurity," she said.

The Meat and Livestock Commission also said it was good news.

MLC international manager Peter Hardwick said: "We will be working hard to re-establish our pig meat exports as soon as possible and secure the lifting of restrictions in other areas and on cattle and sheep soon."

The National Farmers' Union and the National Pig Association said the news offered "desperately welcome" access to overseas markets.

NFU president Ben Gill said: "This is the first of many steps that will need to be taken to rebuild Britain's livestock industry after the devastation that has been caused by foot-and-mouth."

Sheep hopes

Mr Gill warned farmers not to allow the good news to distract them from the task of maintaining strict disease protection measures on farms.

NPA chairman James Black said: "This comes as a huge boost to the pig industry.

"Producers have been particularly hard-hit by the closure of overseas markets. We will, of course, be pressing for the resumption of exports from other areas as soon as they comply with the EU requirements."

Scotland's rural development minister Ross Finnie described the announcement as "the first glimmer of light on exports" since foot-and-mouth started.

But he said he was disappointed sheep meat had not been included - and said he was meeting the commission on Friday to discuss the resumption of lamb and mutton exports from Scotland.

Since the disease struck in February more than 3.9m animals have been slaughtered - 139,000 of which were pigs. The last recorded case in the UK was on 30 September.

See also:

28 Sep 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth restrictions eased
11 Sep 01 | Scotland
Scotland free of farm disease
28 Sep 01 | England
Pig causes foot-and-mouth scare
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