French farmers to take legal action

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The Independent Online

French farmers' unions brought a legal action against "persons unknown" yesterday for spreading foot-and-mouth disease to the Mayenne area of western France.

French farmers' unions brought a legal action against "persons unknown" yesterday for spreading foot-and-mouth disease to the Mayenne area of western France.

Although the unions denied it, the action appears to be aimed mostly at Jean-François Reboux, the sheep farmer and trader in the village of La Baroche-Gondouin in northern Mayenne, who unwittingly imported infected sheep from Britain last month.

The virus was confirmed on Tuesday to have spread to 113 dairy cattle in the next-door farm - the only outbreak of foot-and-mouth on the continent since the UK epidemic began.

The European Commission yesterday called on Austria to lift its excessive ban on French animal produce. The Austrian government has forbidden meat and dairy from all of France. The restrictions agreed by the EU only cover Mayenne and Orne.

Portugal said two cows suspected of foot-and-mouth had tested negative. The government there has put an embargo on livestock and animal product imports from Argentina, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, South Africa, Swaziland, Taiwan and Turkey.

Argentina has suspended the movement of animals for three weeks as it struggles to contain outbreaks of the disease.

Bosnia has banned the import and transport of all cloven-hoofed animals from Britain and France.

China has forbidden imports of cloven-hoofed animal from countries with foot-and-mouth.

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