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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 19:46 GMT 20:46 UK
Foot-and-mouth border curbs eased
Pigs
The move will particularly benefit Scottish pig farmers
A further relaxation of restrictions imposed in response to the Surrey foot-and-mouth outbreak has been welcomed by Scottish farmers.

Animals who were being sent from farms directly to slaughterhouses will be able to cross the border between Scotland and England from midnight.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said the move was good news for farmers in the south of Scotland.

Farming leaders praised the authorities for their reaction to the outbreak.

Mr Lochhead said the relaxation would help meat processors, as well as farmers who regularly send livestock south of the border

It is essential that we remain vigilant and maintain all other protective measures already in place
Charles Milne
Chief veterinary officer

He added: "The Scottish government has been working flat-out all week to ensure that we can respond quickly at every appropriate stage to help get this vital Scottish industry up and running again.

"This is another welcome step in that process."

Scotland's chief veterinary officer Charles Milne said the decision had been taken after a full risk assessment was carried out.

He added: "I am confident that we can proceed with this relaxation on a strictly controlled basis.

"But it is essential that we remain vigilant and maintain all other protective measures already in place."

A ban on the movement of all animals had been imposed after foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed at a farm in Surrey last week.

But Scottish farmers have been able to send their animals directly to abattoirs since Wednesday, in the first relaxation of the strict restrictions.

'Disease control'

A similar relaxation of the restrictions has now come into effect in England and Wales.

However, the nationwide ban on all other animal movements remains firmly in place.

Jim McLaren, the president of the NFU Scotland, said the relaxation on cross-border movement was particularly important to pig farmers.

He said the union had spoken to a number of pig producers who would normally be sending pigs into England for slaughter, and added: "One company has 1,000 pigs that it needs to move and I'm delighted they'll be able to do that in the morning."

The farmers' leader said he hoped welfare issues regarding the movement of pregnant animals would be resolved soon.

But he said: "In the meantime, it is absolutely critical that all restrictions are strictly adhered to and farmers keep disease control at the forefront of their minds.

"I take my hat off to vets and officials who have been working round the clock to ensure the restrictions are amended to take account of the very latest veterinary advice."


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