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The NFU has supported further emergency action announced today to track and cull certain sheep which it is believed may be helping to spread the disease.

The Government has said it will track and slaughter animals moved throughmarkets in Northampton and Welshpool from February that may have come into dangerous contact with other animals carrying the disease.

The "pre-emptive strike" has been described by NFU President Ben Gill as welcome in that it will help the country get ahead of the spread of the disease.

The NFU has called on farmers who may have had any dealings with these animals to contact their MAFF regional offices immediately.

Ben Gill said: "There is real concern that these particular animals are undermining the efforts of the rest of the country in controlling the disease.

"While those farmers involved will be devastated by this further loss of livestock, the whole country knows that desperate measures are needed if we are to prevent even greater losses."

The NFU will tell Ministers during on-going talks of farmers growing concerns for the welfare of animals trapped on farms and the vital importance of ensuring diseased animals are slaughtered and disposed of quickly.

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