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Jeremy Barber, Pig farmer
"Hopefully common sense will prevail"
 real 56k

Lisa Ferguson, US Agriculture Department
"A risk of transmission of disease to the US livestock population"
 real 28k

Andrew Garvey, Meat and Livestock Commission
"We can well understand why the Americans have taken these decisions"
 real 28k

The BBC's Lisa Holland
"Scientists say the disease is harmless to humans"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 16 August, 2000, 22:05 GMT 23:05 UK
Hopes for end to EU pig ban
Facon's Botton Farm in Suffolk
Control area have been set up around infected farms
British agriculture officials are hoping the European ban on English pigs could soon be lifted.

They hope European scientists meeting on Tuesday will be persuaded by the slaughter of about 12,000 pigs and the isolation of infected farms.

The EU imposed the ban on live English pig exports and pig sperm, used for breeding, on Monday after the discovery of the highly contagious swine fever on several farms in East Anglia.

The United States and Canada followed with a temporary restriction to "assess the risk" of each shipment.

Pork exports are as yet unaffected.

'No new outbreaks'

British officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Maff) have told their European counterparts urgent checks have revealed no newly infected farms since last Saturday.

They say control areas around infected farms have contained the disease to three counties - Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
Pigs
Over 12,000 pigs have already been slaughtered

A Maff spokeswoman said showing the disease was limited to a certain area could persuade the EU's Standing Veterinary Committee to reduce the scope of the ban, that runs until August 31.

"Our priority is to contain the outbreak and that's the information we will take to the Veterinary Committee on Tuesday," she said.

"They may decide to ease the ban, that is one of the options available and is a decision that will be taken when we have all the information."

Government restrictions on the movement of pigs and other livestock have been imposed on farmers in affected areas.

'Devastating effect'

Andrew Garvey of the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) has warned a prolonged ban could have a "devastating effect" on the industry, which is worth 12m in exports and accounts for 15% of the market.

Mr Garvey said the industry had already been in crisis for two years, but had moved into a recovery position.
James Black of the National Pig Association
National Pig Association supports temporary ban

He said he respected countries' wishes to impose a temporary ban, but hoped the export of livestock would resume as quickly as possible.

"This disease is very virulent, and we understand any country that has a view about minimising the risk of bringing that disease into their own country," he said.

"But we do want to resolve this issue very quickly, and our hope is that we can negotiate for exports to continue from areas of the country that are not infected."

Compensation

The National Pig Association's vice chairman James Black said he supported the ban on live exports as long as it was temporary.

He praised measures taken by the ministry but said the Government now had a "moral responsibility" to consider compensating farmers for the losses they would suffer.

Shadow agriculture minister Tim Yeo warned the ban could get out of control and extend to pork itself.

He said: "It's time Nick Brown stopped sitting around waiting for the French to tell British pig farmers which hoop to jump through next.

"He must act today to stop the ban on the movement of live pigs for export becoming a ban on the export of fresh British pork."

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See also:

16 Aug 00 | Americas
US restricts UK pig imports
11 Aug 00 | UK
Swine fever fears mount
22 Jan 98 | Europe
German pig imports banned
03 Jun 99 | UK
UK blacklists Belgian food
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