BETA - the British Equestrian Trade Association - has joined a campaign to help businesses severely affected by the FMD crisis fight for compensation.
The UK Rural Business Campaign has been set up to seek compensation from the government for losses suffered by all businesses involved directly or indirectly in the rural economy, as a result of mal-administration and human rights breaches.
The English and Welsh Tourist Boards have estimated that £5.1 billion in turnover has been lost by rural businesses since the FMD outbreak began in February 2001. BETA estimates that by the end of the year the trade sector of the equestrian industry alone will have lost over £170 million in turnover
Another aim of the campaign is to challenge, through the courts, proposed legislation to allow the culling of any animal without right of appeal. This could affect every animal and pet owner in the country.
Chairman of the campaign, Ian Mitchell said: "This sees the start of a national fight for compensation for thousands of people whose lives have been ruined by the governments actions."
The campaign committee includes representatives of the equestrian, livestock auctioneeering, farming, tourist related and other rural dependent industries, and members of the National Foot and Mouth Group.
It was launched by the Powys Rural Business campaign and solicitors Class Law are taking the case forward for the committee.
BETA Chief Executive and Secretary Claire Williams said: "The suggested action is both a legal and political campaign.
"The intention is to raise the profile of those whose business and personal circumstances suffered as a result of the government's handling of the crisis and to place the government under unremitting pressure to settle.
"The aim of the action is to use test legal cases to force the government into paying compensation for the losses suffered by the huge range of rural and urban businesses during the FMD outbreak."
Currently the committee is appealing for as many cases and statements to be forwarded as possible.
These will provide the potential test cases as well as giving a better idea of what the losses amount to.
Added Ms Williams: "BETA's role on the committee is to represent the equestrian industry, ensuring that issues effecting companies from our sectors are given proper consideration, and also to make the rest of the industry aware of the possibility of this avenue for seeking compensation."
A number of meetings have been arranged around the country to introduce to interested parties Class Law and the aim of the campaign.