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The NFU says today's decision to ban the feeding of swill containing meat will be another weapon in the armoury against foot and mouth disease in future.

But NFU President Ben Gill said what must be equally important is that infected meat is prevented from reaching our shores ever again.

He said it was good news that moves were being made to tighten the law to protect the UK from illegally imported food in addition to the ban on swill, which will come into effect on 24 May.

Mr Gill said: "While the feeding of swill is extremely limited in this country it is important that in the interests of the wider good we do what we can to protect our industry from such a scourge ever happening again."

He said he was pleased that the Minister had recognised there was no problem in continuing to allow the feeding of foodstuffs such as fruit and vegetable peelings to animals.

Nick Brown's decision to look at toughening up regulations controlling the import of meat, including food for personal use, will be extremely welcome news for desperately concerned farmers.

He said: "It is vital that a joint approach is taken in the task of closing the door permanently on foot and mouth and other exotic diseases.

"The need to prevent food from coming in to the country from suspect areas in the first place has to be a priority."

The NFU also welcomed news from the Minister that routes are to be opened to allow meat from uninfected animals on farms within 3km of confirmed cases (form D farms) to go into the food chain, a change for which the NFU has been working hard.

The NFU said it would be highlighting the difficulties that will be faced by some swill users with regard to the very limited three-week weaning period allowed for the switch to other food.

Ben Gill added: "The livelihoods of those producers and those of swill processors will be taken away and this must be taken into account. We will be discussing with the Minister how they can be helped."

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