14 August 2001
Scotland almost disease-free – Finnie

By Shelley Wright, Scotland correspondent

SCOTTISH Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie has announced that Scotland is almost free from foot-and-mouth disease.

All of the country – other than Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders – has been classified as “provisionally free” from the disease, he said.

Assuming there are no more cases of foot-and-mouth, those areas should also qualify to be considered disease free by the end of August.

Mr Finnie said it was essential that the sheep export ban for Scotland was lifted as soon as possible so the trade could resume.

“I am determined to do everything I can to make that happen and allow Scotlands rural areas to return to normal,” he said.

Meanwhile, provisional results from a new survey indicate that few, if any, Scottish farmers affected by foot-and-mouth disease intend to give up farming.

Research from the Scottish Agricultural College shows that no-one has decided to quit although 17-20% of farmers have yet to make up their minds.

Peter Cook, SAC head of rural business, said: “The sheer resilience of this industry in being optimistic is amazing.”

“But there is also a real negative coming through in the survey answers, and that is that people are staying in farming because they cant do anything else.”

The survey suggests Dumfries and Galloway will see an increase in dairy-cow numbers, a consolidation in the beef sector, and a marked decline in sheep.

Mr Cook suggested that change was essential, pointing out that Scottish farming had suffered years of falling incomes, despite 500m in subsidies a year.

He added: “The definition of insanity is carrying on with the same thing and expecting a different result.”

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