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Foot and Mouth - Only One County Left To Go

Three of the four remaining counties to be affected by foot and mouth will
be declared clear of the disease at midnight - taking the country another
step closer to being officially granted free status.

NFU President Ben Gill said the announcement by DEFRA would put an extra
sparkle into the New Year celebrations of farmers in Cumbria, Durham and
North Yorkshire.

The counties will move from being classified as "at risk" to "free" with the
welcome relaxation in animal movement restrictions that this will bring.

The results of blood testing in Northumberland are still being awaited, but
this county is also expected to be declared "free" shortly.

The Government still has to apply to both the European Commission and the
international animal health organisation, the OIE*, before the UK can be
officially recognised as clear of the disease. It was three months on Sunday
(30 December) since the last case.

Mr Gill said: "This is one more step on the road towards breaking free of
the terrible shackles of foot and mouth.

"For every farmer in Cumbria, Durham and North Yorkshire, there will be
extra cause for celebration when the clock strikes midnight. This is
definitely the best way possible of seeing in the New Year.

"There is still more to do but this means we have more reason than ever to
start looking forward in earnest to regaining our disease-free status early
in 2002."

While the counties were classified as "at risk", all sheep had to be blood
tested before they could be moved and even then any movements were allowed
only within that county, placing a massive burden on farming businesses.

Moving to "free" status will remove this requirement, although a licence is
still needed for every single animal movement in the country. A relaxation
of the restrictions is expected to come into effect in February including
the re-opening of cattle markets and a general instead of individual
licensing system.

Notes to editors:
*The Office International des Epizooties in Paris.

The criteria for the country to be officially declared free of foot and
mouth disease are as follows:
* It must be no sooner than 90 days after the last case.
* All counties must be declared free.
* The Chief Veterinary Officer must be satisfied the country is clear.

* Applications must be made to the EU and the OIE for European and
international recognition of free status.

A fact sheet with the latest facts and figures on the impact of foot and
mouth on farming and the next steps in lifting disease control restrictions
is available from the NFU press office or at


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