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EDITIONS
 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 05:42 GMT
Farm virus laws flouted
Pyres for dead animals in the foot-and-mouth crisis
Pyres became a grim but familiar site
Many within the agriculture industry are regularly flouting laws introduced to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, BBC Radio 4's Farming Today has learned.

The epidemic of 2001 led to the slaughter of more than six million animals and is estimated to have cost the UK as much as 4bn.

But it has now emerged trading standards officers have reported thousands of animals are being moved illegally by farmers and livestock dealers.

It was the rapid unrecorded movement of livestock which caused foot-and-mouth disease to spread out of control.

In Surrey, reports involve the illegal dealing of sheep across three county borders.

In Cornwall, officials have targeted dealers and farmers trading hundreds of cattle without keeping records including animal passports.

Dramatic changes

But the news comes at a time when farmers are calling for the laws on animal movements to be relaxed because they say they are unworkable.

The 2001 epidemic was vastly more serious than the last major outbreak in 1967, because of dramatic changes in the farming industry.

Continuous national movement of animals made it hard to trace the progress of the disease.

Cumbria was particularly badly affected after the arrival of infected animals at a livestock market.

During the crisis, as well as the decimation of livestock farming, British tourism was badly affected, with foreign visitors put off by images of burning pyres of carcasses.



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21 Nov 02 | Politics
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