3 May 2001
Blair pledges aid package for farmers

By Alistair Driver

TONY BLAIR has pledged to help farmers recover from the foot-and-mouth crisis which he claims is now under control.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that some farmers would leave the industry once foot-and-mouth is fully eradicated.

“We know that for farmers and the countryside in general, this will remain a time of great change and great anxiety,” he said.

“We will do all we can to help people through those changes. Our work will not stop when foot-and-mouth is gone.”

Mr Blair said the government recognised that there is a strong case for helping farmers most affected by the crisis.

The government would provide free business planning and consultancy advice he told journalists in a Downing Street briefing on Thursday (3 May).

It is understood that agriculture minister Nick Brown is preparing to reveal details of a recovery package to MPs in the House of Commons.

Mr Blair said the disease is now under control although he warned against complacency and insisted that everyone must remain vigilant.

He paid tribute to everyone involved in the battle against the disease, including farmers, the Army, the police and veterinary experts.

“A special word should go to the farmers themselves who have suffered greatly from this terrible disease and yet still co-operated with the dreadful business of culling out their livestock.”

Mr Blair said the fight against foot-and-mouth had been the biggest logistical exercise Britain had ever seen during peace-time.

The government had now all but cleared the backlog of animals to be slaughtered and carcasses awaiting disposal, he said.

No more pyres to dispose of carcasses would be lit after Thursday.

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