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Interim Movement Rules For Next Year Are A Step Forward - NFU

The announcement today of an easing in the regime to regulate animal
movements following foot and mouth will loosen the strait-jacket
constricting farmers, says the NFU.

The new regime for England and Wales, announced this morning by Lord Whitty,
is likely to come into force in February.

The changes - which include the resumption of cattle markets with new
bio-security rules, general rather than individual licensing arrangements
and more sheep movements - will make a huge practical difference to farmers
and have followed long and complex talks with the NFU.

NFU President Ben Gill said the changes were a recognition of the fact that
the battle against the disease has been all but won. There have been no
cases for nearly three months.

Mr Gill said: "This is a massive step forward from the current situation
where farmers need a licence for every single movement. Farmers will be
nothing short of delighted to see at least the start of the re-opening of
livestock markets.

"Farmers have understood the fact that they have had to comply with these
restrictions to stop the spread of the disease.

"But the complexity and bureaucracy of the system - not to mention the
physical impact on how farmers operate their businesses - has been very
hard. They will be extremely relieved at this news."

But Mr Gill added: "It is important to point out that this is an interim
regime. It can be further relaxed next year as we gain experience in the
operation of the system and the threat of foot and mouth recedes further.

"We will then be better placed to determine the long term management of
animal movements in the UK. A key element of future discussions will be the
issue of the 20-day movement standstill and the impact this will have on

"We are pleased to see that Lord Whitty has made it clear to producers that
DEFRA will be looking at other elements of fighting exotic diseases,
including the operation of import controls on meat and animal products.

"Strengthening our defences has been one of the NFU's key priorities
throughout the foot and mouth crisis."


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