25 October 2001
Virus rules to be further relaxed

By Alistair Driver

A FURTHER relaxation of foot-and-mouth regulations is expected to prevent the collapse of the autumn breeding programme.

The government is set to announce a series of changes to the autumn movement controls in England and Wales early next week.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was unable to say when the changes will be introduced.

But some or all of the changes are likely to be announced on Monday or Tuesday (29-30 October), she added.

The government plans to allow male breeding animals to be moved into designated high-risk counties and infected areas from lower-risk counties.

Cattle, sheep and pigs will be allowed into high-risk counties outside infected areas, but only to restock farms that have been culled out.

The government also intends to allow cattle and pigs to move between a group of adjoining high-risk counties outside infected areas.

Movement between counties will be allowed within infected areas.

Pigs will be allowed into infected areas from elsewhere within the same county.

The relaxation of the rules will be a boost for farmers in the north of England after more than three weeks since the last case of the disease.

They will be a step towards normality for producers in the high-risk counties of Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, North Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The National Farmers Union said being able to move male breeding animals into high-risk counties will help prevent the collapse of the breeding season.

Producers trying to rebuild their businesses have been given hope by the move to allow them to source animals from outside their county.

NFU deputy president Tim Bennett: “These changes will by no means solve all the problems of producers but this is certainly a significant step forward.”

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