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The BBC's Colin Wight reports
"The latest scare is the last thing farmers in Scotland needed"
 real 56k

The BBC's Alan Mackay reports
"Farmers felt a ban on livestock was inevitable"
 real 56k

Andrew Anderson reports
"The suspicion that the disease has spread to the north-east is causing alarm"
 real 28k

Saturday, 24 February, 2001, 12:13 GMT
Farmers wait for test results
A policeman outside Banks Farm in Aberdeenshire
Scotland's farmers face an anxious wait to discover whether the foot-and-mouth outbreak has spread north of the border.

Tests have been carried out at an Aberdeenshire farm following reports that pigs showed possible symptoms of the disease which has paralysed the British industry.

But the final results of those tests are not now expected until Tuesday.

A seven-day ban on the movement of livestock has been imposed in Scotland as part of UK-wide restrictions prompted by the outbreak.

Tests are being carried out at Scottish farms
Ministry of Agriculture officials were called to Banks Farm near Fyvie on Thursday after its owners, the Grampian Country Food Group, reported that a small number of their pigs appeared to be lame.

At that point the company believed the problem could have been related to the recent cold weather.

If foot-and-mouth is confirmed it would be a savage blow for Scotland's beleaguered farming industry.

But the delay in the test results, which were initially expected on Friday evening, is being taken as a positive sign.

Movement ban

Government vets have indicated that confirmation of the disease would be swift - and the longer it takes, the less likely it is that the disease has crossed the border.

The freeze on livestock movement follows checks on a number of farms in Aberdeenshire and other parts of Scotland.

The Westminster Government has confirmed that a pig farm in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, is the source of the outbreak.

The restriction is designed to enable the State Veterinary Service to undertake checks of vehicle movements to prevent any further spread of the disease.

My clear intention is that no movements will be licensed for the time being

Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie
Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie said that the Scottish order would stop all movement of susceptible animals - mainly pigs, cattle, sheep and goats.

It would reserve to Scottish ministers the power to grant a licence permitting movements.

He added: "In common with the position south of the border, my clear intention is that no movements will be licensed for the time being."

Large gatherings

Foot-and-mouth is highly contagious and can travel through the air or via contact between animals, vehicles or pens which have held infected animals.

Under the order large gatherings on farms, such as shows, fairs or auctions, will be banned and all live animals imports will be stopped at ports.

Mr Finnie confirmed the order would not affect the movements of poultry, milk or animal feed.

National Farmers Union Scotland president Jim Walker said he recognised that the government had no choice but to impose the ban, but warned that the effects could be catastrophic.

Jim Walker, NFU Scotland president
Jim Walker: "Effects could be catastrophic"
He said: "There have been 400 or 500 movements at the plant (in Essex) from the time there was infected material in the plant.

"They had to do it because every time a vehicle moves it causes more contact. To try and stop the disease and find its original source, they had no option.

"The implications are horrendous. It is bad enough for seven days, at a time when agriculture is under the cosh from all sorts of angles, but if it was extended beyond seven days the results would be catastrophic."

Mr Walker called on the government to impose a complete ban on meat imports, saying that the original source of the foot-and-mouth outbreak had to have come from outwith the UK.

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