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BBC Wales's Jason Mohammad
"Carwyn Jones has confirmed there is a compensation mechanism in place for farmers affected "
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The BBC's Janet Cohen
"For a farming community already on its knees, the next week will be a very long time"
 real 28k

Farmer David Lloyd remembering the 1967 outbreak
"The town of Oswestry became a ghost town"
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Food safety advisor Dr. Richard North
"We have an open border situation and it is very difficult to control imports"
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Friday, 23 February, 2001, 10:39 GMT
Export hope for Welsh farmers
Woodchester Park, near Stroud, Gloucestershire
This National Trust park is closed to the public
Farmers in Wales could be allowed to resume exporting their livestock if tests confirm that foot-and-mouth did not start this side of the border.

As industry leaders urged farmers across the UK to stay calm, Welsh Assembly Agriculture Minister Carwyn Jones was planning to hold talks in Cardiff to discuss the ban in the wake of the UK's first foot-and-mouth outbreak in 20 years.

A fourth case has now been confirmed among pigs at a farm in Northumberland.

Despite this, Mr Jones has said that exports could resume if the infection is found not to have spread to Wales.

He plans to tell farmers at a meeting on Friday that if it is discovered that the source of the disease is not Wales he will do everything possible to allow Welsh exports to resume.

Speaking to BBC Wales, he said:

"What we must do as an assembly is work to get the ban lifted in Wales as soon as possible - once the source of the infection is pinpointed.

"Everybody understands that in these situtations the cautionary principle has to apply until the source of the infection is pin-pointed - after whcih time Welsh farmers can then resume exports to the Continent."

Mr Jones has also confirmed there is a compensation mechanism in place for farmers affected.

It has been estimated that the export ban could result in losses of around 2m a week.

Strict hygiene measures have been adopted at farms across Britain and members of the public have been told to avoid the countryside where possible to help prevent further spread of the disease.

A third case of the virus has been identified at a cattle farm, inside the 10-mile exclusion zone set up around an abattoir and farm near Brentwood, Essex, where the disease was first found in pigs on Wednesday.

Kevin Pearce, spokesman for the National Farmers' Union, said vigilance not panic would keep the outbreak under control.

Any contamination in the environment can be spread by people or vehicles or other animals

Professor Jim Scudamore
"Because of the nature of this virus, and it appears it is a very short-term virus, it means that any suspects will come to note very quickly," he said.

"We would expect that within about seven days we would be in a good position to know whether or not this is likely to spread and whether we are going to see any further cases."

Click here to see exclusion zone areas.

As the disease spreads, a farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland has become subject to restrictions on animal movements, following suspected cases of foot-and-mouth thought to be connected to the Essex outbreak.

Two farms in Buckinghamshire and the Isle of Wight also have exclusion zones around them, and restrictions are in place at two farms in Gloucestershire and Yorkshire.

Hundreds more across Britain have been told to prepare for investigation by Ministry of Agriculture inspectors.

Hygiene controls

A range of strict hygiene measures have been introduced in an effort to stop further spread of the disease.

The Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has issued a warning to the public to avoid all non-essential visits to livestock farms, and postmen have been asked to leave all mail at farm gates.

Hunting has been banned for a week and some local racing fixtures in Essex have been postponed.

Woodchester Park, a National Trust park near Stroud in Gloucestershire, has been closed to the public following a suspected outbreak at a nearby farm.

The government's chief veterinary officer, Professor Jim Scudamore, says such precautions are necessary because of the way foot-and-mouth spreads.

'Ghost town'

He said infected animals "will excrete or pass the virus out in all sorts of tissues, they can breathe it out, so any contamination in the environment can be spread by people or vehicles or other animals".

Foot-and-mouth restrictions
Slaughterhouse at Little Warley, Essex, cordoned off
Exclusion zones around two farms in Buckinghamshire
Exclusion zone around farm on Isle of Wight
Restrictions on farm in Stroud, Gloucestershire
Restrictions on farm in Goole, East Yorkshire
Exclusion zone around abattoir in Guildford lifted
Movement restrictions on farm in Northumberland
"So it is important that people visiting farms are kept to the absolute minimum, particularly in infected areas, and that movements of people and vehicles are restricted as much as possible."

The last time there was a serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Britain was in 1967 - around Oswestry on the Welsh border.

Nearly half a million cows, sheep and pigs had to be slaughtered and infected farms were cut off from normal life for weeks.

David Lloyd, who was a local farmer at the time, said: "The whole town of Oswestry became truly a ghost town.

"The farming folk ... were in total fear of this virus, so they were not going shopping any more than was absolutely necessary. Everything literally died."

Counting the cost

Foot-and-mouth, a viral disease which causes blisters on the mouth and hooves of livestock, is highly contagious but poses little threat to humans.

All livestock farmers are being urged to check their animals for signs of the virus.

UK farmers are already counting the cost of the total ban on exports of British livestock, meat and milk, with prices for animals in the UK down by around 25%.

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