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Today's announcement of new arrangements for the movement of livestock due to foot and mouth will be a further blow to the confidence of beleaguered farmers, says the NFU.

NFU Deputy President Tim Bennett said: "Farmers accept that the priority must be to prevent any further spread of the disease, particularly in light of recent developments in Northumberland.

"But some of these producers have had animals on their farms for six months and are at their wits' end."

The NFU had been in prolonged talks with Government about a package of measures to enable more movements of animals in the autumn, when livestock farmers gain the bulk of their income, but which did not compromise disease control.

Mr Bennett said that he was concerned that the lack of movements in today's announcement would place a considerable logistical and financial burden on farmers and that it was disappointing that markets for some categories of stock such as calves and stores could not resume.

He said: "I am also particularly concerned about the sudden inclusion in the package of a requirement to identify individual sheep. We will be holding further urgent discussions with DEFRA officials on this issue during the next few days."

Mr Bennett added: "It is clear that as these new arrangements bite hard on many parts of the country the Government will need to look at other measures to enable some farmers to survive the difficult period ahead.

"We are particularly concerned about farmers in infected counties who will be put in an untenable position by this announcement. Further urgent discussions with Government will take place this week."

On the announcement about an extension of the Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme to enable it to take surplus light lambs, he said: "It is good news that the Government has recognised that this will have to be a last resort for some farmers. But we continue to urge the supermarkets and shoppers to buy British lamb to deal with this problem."

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