2 August 2001
Virus clean-up to resume ‘within days’

By FWi staff

CLEANING and disinfecting operations on farms affected by foot-and-mouth could resume within days, according to the Financial Times.

A government review has discovered the cost of cleaning farms affected by foot-and-mouth could be a quarter of the 800 million feared, says the paper.

Investigations suggest the total bill is likely to be closer to 200m and that a widely publicised figure of 100,000 per farm has little basis, it adds.

Clean-up operations were halted last month after Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed concerns about “unacceptable” escalating costs.

But although figures are yet to be finalised, civil servants now believe costs can be kept under control by careful auditing, reports the FT.

The paper suggests that following the review, the government is unlikely to meet all the costs of cleaning farm buildings.

Farmers may have to pay for the initial clean-up, it says. If producers refuse they may be given the option of leaving their farm empty of livestock for a year.

If cleaning operations do restart it will be a welcome relief for farmers in south-west England which was declared disease-free on Wednesday (1 August).

The last remaining infected areas status in Devon has now been revoked meaning the whole of the south-west is now clear of disease restrictions.

Food minister Lord Whitty said: “There is still a need for farmers everywhere to remain vigilant in following strict biosecurity measures.

“For the south-west, this is very good news for the farming community and the tourism industry, and means that Devon, Cornwall and Somerset are now infection free.”

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Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage