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BBC NI's Martin Cassidy
"A sorry end for a pedigree animal - the culling operation is unrelenting"
 real 56k

NI's Chief Vet Bob McCracken
"The minister has announced that the casualty slaughter can recommence"
 real 28k

Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Penalties outlined for moving animals
Sheep
Farmers face penalties for illegally moving animals
Farmers in Northern Ireland have been told they will face severe penalties if they ignore guidelines about moving animals illegally.

The warning came as the foot-and-mouth cull of animals near Cushendall in County Antrim continued.

The Department of Agriculture has said farmers who move animals without authorisation will have their livestock slaughtered without compensation.

They could also face a prison sentence of up to one month and fines of 1,000 per animal when more than five animals are involved.

Northern Ireland's agriculture minister has confirmed she is to write to every sheep farmer seeking information about the illegal movement of animals.

Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers
Brid Rodgers: Determined to halt disease
Brid Rodgers said: "I have been trying to drive home the message that responsibility for disease control rests primarily with the farmers."

Up to 20,000 cattle and sheep have been earmarked for slaughter in Northern Ireland.

They are the animals closest to the outbreaks at Cushendall and at Ardboe, County Tyrone, that are considered the highest risk.

It is likely to take several days for the process to be completed.

Sheep have also been culled on farmland just outside Ballymoney, County Antrim.

The animals were slaughtered on land at McFinn Road, nearly 20 miles from Cushendall.

The Department of Agriculture said it was part of a precautionary cull and not another foot-and-mouth case.

It also has said there are no plans to cull sheep at a farm in Limavady, County Londonderry, which has been placed under restriction.

Test samples from the farm have been sent to the Pirbright laboratory in Surrey for analysis.

But it is understood vets are not overly concerned about the matter and have described the farm as a "cool suspect".

Later on Thursday, Mrs Rodgers is expected to make a further statement about the crisis.

Census

On Thursday, the deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union said he is opposed to the use of vaccination in Northern Ireland.

John Gilliland said it would deny farmers their export markets.

And he said the border created difficulties not faced by farmers in Great Britain.

Meanwhile, the census office is investigating a complaint that a female census worker called at a farm in Templepatrick, County Antrim.

Farmer's wife Sharon McKeown said: "I was concerned that she might have been coming from farm to farm.

Since all this started we have had no contact whatsoever with any of our neighbours and wouldn't dream of going into their farms."

John Gilliland said he was concerned about the report.

Irish exports to resume

In the Irish Republic the government is lifting foot and mouth restrictions on most farms in County Louth from midnight on Thursday.

Irish Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh said 30 days had passed since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth on the Cooley peninsula without further infection.

All Irish farms, except those inside the 10 kilometre exclusion zone around the County Louth farm could, therefore, resume exporting meat from midnight on Thursday, he said.

The Department of Agriculture can be contacted on its helpline numbers on 02890 524279 or 02890 524590 between 0830 - 2100 GMT.

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See also:

17 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
NI precautionary cull called off
13 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
'Negative' result on suspect NI sheep
15 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Crisis talks on NI virus outbreak
14 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Shock at new outbreak
13 Apr 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth spreads further
15 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Two more 'hot suspects' found
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