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Rural Development Minister, Ross Finnie
"We have taken all the appropriate and correct measures"
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BBC Scotland's Sangeeta Mhaiskar reports
"At this Aberdeenshire auctioneers they're breathing a sigh of relief"
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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 13:58 GMT
Minister in 'vigilance' call to farmers
Pigs
More than 300 pigs at an Essex abattoir were infected
Scotland's farmers have been warned to be "just as vigilant" as the rest of the UK against the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease among livestock.

Rural Development Minister, Ross Finnie, said it was essential that the source of the most recent outbreak in England be identified as soon as possible.

He has ruled out suggestions that Scotland should be excluded from a ban on exports of live animals, meat and animal products which is currently being enforced by the UK Government after demands by the European Union.

His warning came after more than 300 pigs and 60 cattle were identified as carrying the 'type O' strain' of the highly infectious disease at an abattoir in England.

Rural Development Minister, Ross Finnie
Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie
Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Finnie said: "Although the plant itself is based in Essex the plant does process sows from throughout the UK which includes sources here in Scotland.

"So we have to be just as vigilant as any other part of the UK in looking out for any suspicion that there is any instance of disease here in Scotland."

"This outbreak has been clearly and positively identified in Essex and therefore an exclusion zone has been created there.

"The European Union operates at member state level and they want to prevent a member state exporting while the member state is trying to identify exactly how it is going to contain the disease within its own borders.

"We are being very vigilant and the farming community is being very vigilant about this threat to the UK," he said.

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"What we have to hope for is that we can isolate the disease in Essex and move forward from there."

Mr Finnie said that questions of government compensation to farmers were premature and he hoped that the current restrictions would soon be lifted.

The export ban has already caused alarm among UK farmers, many of whom have still not fully recovered from the BSE crisis several years ago.

The Vice President of the Scottish National Farmers Union (SNFU), Peter Stewart, traveled to London on Thursday to attend a meeting with Agriculture Minister Nick Brown.

The SNFU has confirmed that there is a "regular trade" from Scotland to the affected abattoir in Essex which may account for dozens of lorries every week.

The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease was first detected by a veterinary inspector at Cheale Meats abattoir in Essex on Monday and confirmed on Tuesday.

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