Foot-and-mouth outbreak confirmed at second farm

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Fears over the scale of the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth grew after cattle at a second farm in Surrey tested positive.

A precautionary cull had already begun at Stroude farm, near Egham, which is near Hardwick Court farm where the new outbreak was detected on Wednesday, among a herd on grazing land attached to nearby Milton Park Farm. A total of 940 cattle and pigs have now been slaughtered.

Peter Ainsworth, the shadow Environment Secretary, said: "The confirmation that the disease was not confined to a single field will send further alarm signals to the farming industry." He said the Government's "negligence" over biosecurity at the Pirbright laboratory complex 10 miles away, which was blamed for last month's outbreak, was becoming more damaging by the day.

Farmers' leaders met Gordon Brown in Downing Street yesterday amid concern that the industry is losing almost £10m a day as a result of the restrictions. They said the new cases were a "disaster".

After rules were relaxed to allow animals in Scotland and Wales to be taken direct to slaughter, the NFU also said it was hoping farmers in some parts of England would soon follow suit.

Following the talks in Downing Street, Mike Giffin, chairman of the National Farmers Union in Surrey, said: "The first outbreak was hard enough to deal with but news of the second outbreak, just as we thought we were getting back to normal, was a disaster.

"The Prime Minister was sincerely interested in the issues we raised but the reality is that we have to get on top of the disease first. We did agree the first priority was to contain and eradicate this outbreak and I am grateful for Mr Brown's continued commitment."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister wanted to reassure the farmers he met that the Government is doing everything in its power to control and eradicate the disease. It was a warm meeting with a good sense of co-operation and the Prime Minister gave them the latest update on the epidemiology and they discussed all the issues of concern to farmers, including implications for sheep farming, and the movement of livestock."

Animals in Scotland and Wales still cannot be traded or moved for any other reason but the decision to ease movement restrictions had raised hopes they could also be relaxed in areas of England unaffected by the latest outbreak.

David Renner, a Northumberland farmer, asked why he could not move his lambs to slaughter when he was 300 miles from the Surrey outbreak. "Welsh farmers, who may be situated less than 100 miles from the outbreak, could do this. How can this be on the basis of good scientific evidence?" he said.

Peter Kendall, the national president of the National Farmers Union, said restrictions had been lifted for only two abattoirs but that it was hoped that curbs would be eased soon for parts of England outside the 10km surveillance zone set up on Wednesday when the disease returned.

Summer of fear for Britain's farmers

3 August

Department of Agriculture confirms virus in cattle on farm near Guildford, Surrey.

4 August

US, Ireland and Japan ban British meat imports. Cattle at the farm are culled.

5 August

Research lab about 8km (five miles) from where cattle were infected is sealed off.

6 August

EU, South Korea and Russia ban British livestock, meat and dairy exports.

7 August

Veterinarians confirm second case of the disease within a 10km protection zone around the farm where the disease first broke out.Investigators find a "strong probability" the strain of virus came from two research labs near the site of infection.

8 August

Third suspected case found in protection zone.

9 August

Ban on movement of livestock to slaughter outside protection zone is lifted.

18 August

Restrictions on livestock movements eased further. Tests for foot-and-mouth at a Kent farm and Chessington World of Adventures prove negative.

3 September

Ban on livestock markets is lifted.

11 September

EU vets declare Britain free of foot-and-mouth from 9 November and allow British exports.

12 September

Suspected foot-and-mouth found on farm in Surrey, around 50km from last outbreak. Herd is culled. EU re-imposes ban on exports.

14 September

Government confirms cattle culled on a second Surrey farm tested positive for foot-and-mouth.

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