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NFU President Ben Gill today repeated in the strongest terms to the Prime Minister farmers' frustrations at the building delays in the slaughter of animals diagnosed with foot and mouth.

He said: "No wonder there was such a strong reaction by Cumbrian farmers at the announcement of additional culling last week.

"They were going through the fear and pain of seeing infected animals which had been diagnosed three to four days earlier still awaiting slaughter and polluting the countryside with more virus. These must be tackled first.

"Following this the Prime Minister gave a robust commitment and direction for this problem to be resolved - and resolved urgently.

"He repeated to his senior staff and Agriculture Minister Nick Brown that every resource must be made available to deliver the target of slaughter within 24 hours of diagnosis."

Mr Gill said that he would be reporting to the Prime Minister later in the week on whether the organisational changes, including the use of the Army, implemented in Devon and Cumbria were taking effect.

The meeting also discussed other areas of concern surrounding the welfare of cattle, sheep and pigs trapped on farms because of movement restrictions.

Mr Gill also pressed for a recovery package to help farmers cope with their consequential losses to be put forward as soon as possible.

He said: "We also talked about the longer-term needs of British agriculture and the whole of the rural economy, which are inter-dependent.

"It is important that any rescue package recognises this. This must be put into place urgently if we are to avoid even more farming job losses in the coming months."

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