20 September 2001
Sheep moves still banned in Powys

By Robert Davies, Wales correspondent

MOVEMENTS of sheep in northern Powys remain banned – even though the risk of foot-and-mouth disease in the county has been degraded.

Despite strong lobbying by farmers, the government has decided that only cattle and pigs will be allowed to move to and from farms.

There have been no disease cases in the area for three months. Movements of livestock other than sheep will start on Monday (24 September).

But no sheep will be able to leave until blood-testing is completed.

The decision disappointed Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones, who was over-ruled by Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett.

Mr Jones had publicly condemned the early decision to make the whole of Waless biggest county a high-risk area.

“The decision to divide Powys in this way is based on professional veterinary advice,” he said.

“I have therefore asked the State Veterinary Service to accelerate the current serology testing programme in relation to northern Powys.”

Mr Jones said he hoped the area would achieve disease-free status by mid-October if blood tests came back negative.

But this will be too late for farmers who had hoped to sell thousands of crossbred and draft ewes through large-scale autumn sales in the county.

Welsh producers who depend on buyers from farms outside the county could now be forced to sell lambs for 10/head into a disposal scheme.

A spokesman for the Farmers Union of Wales said he was bitterly disappointed. The decision did nothing to help the industry, he added.

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