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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Powys split on farm disease risks
farmer with flock of sheep
Powys farmers want the restrictions altered
Welsh Rural Affairs minister Carwyn Jones has won his battle to have parts of Powys classed as lower-risk areas under the autumn's new foot-and-mouth restrictions.

He met with UK Rural Affairs Minister Margaret Beckett in London on Wednesday to persuade her that the county should not be given a single-risk rating for foot-and-mouth.

Following his meeting with Ms Beckett and Defra officials, he said there will be a change in Powys's status from Monday.

Parts of the county will be downgraded to a "at risk" area, rather than a high-risk area, allowing cattle and pigs to be moved.

UK rural affairs minister Margaret Beckett
Margaret Beckett put movement controls in place

Restrictions on moving sheep will remain in place although sheep from other areas will be allowed to be brought in.

Mr Jones had said he was "extremely unhappy" that tight restrictions, which came into force on Wednesday, would affect animal movements right across the county.

He said the whole of Powys was being treated as a "high risk" area, even though some areas of the region - particularly north Powys - have been disease-free for months.

Crisis in Wales
Total confirmed cases UK-wide 2,013 - with 118 in Wales
Powys - 78 cases
Anglesey - 13 cases
Monmouthshire - 21 cases
Caerphilly - 2
Rhondda Cynon Taff - 1
Neath Port Talbot -1
Newport - 3
He set out to persuade Ms Beckett to re-categorise Powys - splitting the county, with Montgomeryshire and Radnor placed in a lesser at risk category.

Mr Jones's meeting in London follows talks held last week between a delegation of Powys politicians and farmers and Lord Whitty, the foot-and-mouth crisis minister.

They urged Lord Whitty to bring in key measures to help farmers in Powys, which has suffered the largest number of virus cases in Wales.

On Wednesday, Mr Jones will insist that the Welsh Assembly's strict test and cull policy around the Brecon Beacons and Crickhowell has worked in limiting the spread of disease.
Blood sample being taken from sheep
Strict blood testing will apply to farms in Powys

The minister will urge Mrs Beckett to look at the evidence elsewhere in Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, where blood testing by vets has led to movement restrictions being lifted.

Mr Jones will say that Defra must honour its commitment to repeatedly review the disease status of counties.

The government described the new regulations as a "compromise" between the welfare needs of animals, and the need to continue fighting the disease.

BBC Wales's rural affairs correspondent Nia Thomas
"Farmers hope Carywn Jones's plea will not fall on deaf ears"
BBC Wales's Melanie Doel reports
"The decision penalises farmers in north Powys"
See also:

31 Jul 01 | Wales
A Brecon farmer's struggle
10 Sep 01 | UK
Fresh foot-and-mouth scare
07 Sep 01 | Glasgow 2001
Fresh calls for farm virus vaccination
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