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Foot and mouth will cause thousands more jobs to haemorrhage from farming, following the 51,000 that have already been shed in the last few years, NFU President Ben Gill said today.

Giving his analysis of the current state of farming - a presentation normally made at the cancelled Royal Show - he said the disease had rocked an industry at its lowest ebb for 60 years.

He ran through the latest available statistics which show earnings of just £5,200 per farmer, total borrowings rising to a new high of more than £10 billion and the income from the whole of farming £3 billion less than it was five years ago at £1.88 billion.

And things are as bad for cereal producers as for foot and mouth-devastated livestock farmers. Last year's floods have meant that the harvest this year could be down about four million tonnes, hitting incomes further.

The NFU is pressing for a recovery programme that will include:
* The payment by the Government of the £34 million "agrimoney" package triggered this weekend for arable farmers.
* Dramatic improvements in import controls for meat and plants to stop foot and mouth ever happening again.
* Emergency measures for the sheep sector to cope with the disappearance of the export market and the desperate need for sheepmovements.
* The re-opening of the Over Thirty Months Scheme for cattle that do not go into the food chain. This has been closed because the disposal capacity was needed to cope with foot and mouth.

Mr Gill said: "We are halfway through the year and what a disaster it has been so far. At the Royal Show last year we thought things were bad - but foot and mouth has taken us out of the frying pan and into the blast furnace.

"If we are to get through the next six months and into 2002 we will need a clear recovery programme. We are working on this with the new Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

"But we also know that at the end of the day, the only way we will ever really recover is to focus even more on the marketplace. Only then can we put the profit back into farming and turn today's depressing statistics into something to be proud of."

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