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Thursday, 11 October, 2001, 05:43 GMT 06:43 UK
Euro boost for UK farmers
Pigs on a pig farm
Limited pig meat exports will start later this month
The EU is to allow some British pork exports to resume, at a time when new figures show the foot-and-mouth crisis has driven farmers' incomes to the brink of collapse.

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.

This is the first of many steps that will need to be taken to rebuild Britain's livestock industry

Ben Gill, NFU

Farmers have welcomed the move, which comes as a survey reveals their average incomes have dropped to 2,500 a year in the wake of the crisis.

Separately, the first phase of an EC foot-and-mouth compensation pay-out is being released, which will see 215m being paid to the UK Government,

Budgets have been juggled in Brussels to speed through the first part of what is expected to be a total of 600m to help cover the cost of animals slaughtered on government orders.

'Good news'

According to a study by accountants Deloitte and Touche, farmers have an average yearly income of 2,500 compared with 80,000 five years ago.

The government has hailed as "extremely good news" the EU decision that limited pig exports could begin again.

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 Meat and Livestock Commission also hailed the decision, which came from the European Union's Standing Veterinary Committee, as 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."

Financial obligation

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.

The European Commission has an obligation to provide financial support to any of the 15 member states which may face agricultural epidemics on the scale confronted by the UK earlier this year.

Funds were also provided after the mad cow crisis, and veterinary experts are continuing to assess claims submitted by British farmers for help with foot-and-mouth.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tim Hirsch
"There are still no exports of beef and lamb"
See also:

28 Sep 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth restrictions eased
10 Oct 01 | UK
UK pork exports to resume
11 Sep 01 | Scotland
Scotland free of farm disease
28 Sep 01 | England
Pig causes foot-and-mouth scare
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