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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 22:45 GMT
Foot and mouth rules set to be eased
Sheep
Farmers are relieved at the anticipated announcement
The government is set to relax its controversial rules on animal movements.

Farmers will no longer have to wait three weeks before they can move livestock away from a farm when new animals arrive.

The regulations, brought in following foot-and-mouth disease, are expected to be cut to six days.

In 2001, foot-and-mouth led to the slaughter of more than six million animals and is estimated to have cost the UK as much as 4bn.

The expected announcement, due to be revealed in a written answer to a parliamentary question, comes only ten days after it emerged trading standards officers had reported thousands of animals 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.

Farming leaders believe less strict movement regulations will reduce the incentive to break the law.

In Surrey, reports involve the illegal dealing of sheep across three county borders, while, in Cornwall, officials targeted dealers and farmers trading hundreds of cattle without keeping records including animal passports.

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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  The BBC's Wyre Davies
"The government has been struggling to enforce the 20 day rule"


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21 Nov 02 | Politics
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