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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 13:18 GMT
Livestock market back in business
Sheep farmer
The markets are vital to the rural economy
A cattle market in Shropshire is believed to be the first in England to reopen since the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

After 12 months of closure, the sheep and cattle sales at Shrewsbury Livestock Market were back in business on Tuesday morning.

Bishop's Castle Market, also in Shropshire, reopens on Wednesday and sales in Oswestry, Bridgnorth and Ludlow will all get under way next week.

But new rules mean the markets must keep records of everyone who enters the premises and all visitors must wash their boots and vehicles.

Ministry inspection

The rules also involve the security of cattle, with details of all the livestock being logged on "animal passports".

Buildings are also coming under scrutiny with inspectors checking there are no cracks in concrete flooring and that pens are made of steel for ease of cleansing and disinfection.

On its first day back in business, the Shrewsbury market had about 500 lambs, 100 ewes and 70 cattle on sale.

The market's auctioneer James Evans said: "It has gone very well.

"The farmers were pleased because the prices are better than before.

"It has been a long 12 months and everyone is very relieved the market is open.

'Extra staff'

"Hopefully, starting today, we'll keep going and get the stock numbers back up again."

Mr Evans said while he welcomed the stringent measures required to prevent another outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the market was looking forward to free trade.

He added: "At the moment we are having to employ extra staff we would not normally have because of the new rules - but it is worthwhile if it prevents foot-and-mouth."

However, while news of the markets reopening may be good for some farmers, many still face movement restrictions due to TB in cattle.

The government says the disease is spreading to Scotland and Cumbria and it will not allow animals from 1,000 farms to be sold until a testing backlog, created by foot-and-mouth disease, is cleared.

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