26 June 2001
Beckett recognises farmers strife
By Jeremy Hunt, north-west England correspondent
RURAL Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett has acknowledged that the foot-and-mouth crisis will have a long-term impact on farm businesses.
Speaking after visiting farmers and businesses hit by the disease in northern England, Mrs Beckett said she had not “come with an open cheque book”.
But she acknowledged that farmers were being deprived of incomes caused by the disruption to the “the seasonal pattern of farming.”
Mrs Beckett had a private meeting with local farmers in the Ribble Valley of Lancashire before speaking to journalists at Gisburn Auction Mart.
Farmers said they voiced concern over a lack of resources to fight the disease and a “casual” approach to bio-security by some slaughter teams.
But Mrs Beckett was upbeat when she addressed the media afterwards and stressed how the farmers were keen to look ahead and plan for the future.
She visited a farm near Skipton, North Yorkshire, on Monday (25 June) where livestock were slaughtered after the disease was confirmed nearby.
Mrs Beckett went on to the farm after donning protective clothing and complying with precautions to prevent any further spread of the disease.
She emphasised that there were no easy or immediate solutions to the problems of reducing and eliminating foot-and-mouth.
However, the Government was resolute in ensuring that the outbreak was dealt with as quickly as possible, she added.
Nevertheless, the recovery wanted so earnestly by local businesses, farmers, hoteliers, shopkeepers, may yet take some time, said Mrs Beckett.
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