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Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Farmers' leader calls for recovery plan
Downing Street exterior
Farming leaders met Mr Blair on Thursday morning
The leader of Scotland's farmers has called on the government to implement a recovery plan for the industry.

Scottish NFU president, Jim Walker, told the prime minister at a meeting in Downing Street on Thursday that a comprehensive aid package was needed to guarantee the industry's long-term survival.

But Mr Walker played down suggestions from Tony Blair that the disease was now coming under control.

After the meeting he said that the outbreak was still not at an end and many problems would remain for the farming industry.

Jim Walker
Jim Walker: "We need action soon"
Speaking at the end of the Downing Street summit, Mr Walker said: "There will be sporadic outbreaks for the next few weeks, possibly for the next few months but I don't think that's the main issue.

"We've over 2,000 farms in Scotland caught up in foreign movement restrictions that can do nothing.

"We haven't got an abattoir in the south of Scotland, in the Borders that can take cattle.

"We have a major problem with the Scottish meat processing industry that they are running out of capacity.

"One plant in Scotland has already put their men on 90 days notice.

Radical change

"So the whole structure of agriculture and the food industry in Scotland is creaking at the seams at the moment and we need quick answers from government about what they are going to do to assist us out of this mess."

Mr Walker told BBC Scotland: "We've been calling for a recovery plan.

"We've got another agreement in principle that it's needed, that the government wants radical change, the industry wants radical change and it has to happen soon.

"We'll be back here next week to put detailed proposals, yet again, to the agriculture minister Nick Brown.

"We've already spoken to the rural affairs minister and the first minister in Scotland but we need action soon."

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02 May 01 | UK
'No more pyres' for Devon
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