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NFU President Ben Gill is hitting home the dire problems caused to British farmers by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease to farmers' leaders from across the world at a conference in Australia.

Mr Gill is this week attending the annual meeting of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers in the Australian capital Canberra.

The meeting brings together farming representatives from across the world including America, Asia and Europe to discuss the current issues on the agricultural scene. Mr Gill is a member of the IFAP Executive body.

Foot and mouth is understandably causing huge interest and he will use the visit as an opportunity to examine Australia's extremely tight animal and plant disease control measures.

Mr Gill will give a presentation to the bi-annual Council meeting of the Australian National Farmers' Federation in Canberra today (Tuesday).

He said: "This has given me the opportunity to talk with Australian livestock farmers about what has happened in the UK and what joint steps can be taken to prevent this happening again.

"We have identified a common need for all world animal disease organisations to be properly funded by their governments and for there to be even greater co-ordination of this work world-wide."

Mr Gill will be joining other IFAP delegates in visiting farms in the South East of Australia travelling from Canberra to Cowra and then back to Sydney on Thursday and Friday.

He said: "The interest in the impact of foot and mouth from farming organisations across the world is understandably massive. They have seen the news coverage of the issue and are keen to learn what it has actually been like for us.

"We have discussed Australia's stringent import control measures of which the country is rightly proud. There are certainly many useful lessons for me to take back home, not least of which are the strict precautions taken at all entry points into the country.

"The Australians also take the issue of the increasing breaking down of world trade barriers very seriously and this has been a hot topic at the IFAP conference. It is extremely important that Britain is represented in such a vital debate."

On Friday Mr Gill will be meeting with the local office of the British Tourist office in Sydney and talking to local journalists to promote the re-establishment of the British tourist industry in Australia.

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