LIVESTOCK farmers in Herefordshire, still struggling with foot and mouth, are worried that their problems will escalate out of control this winter if the disease is not beaten, writes Roy Lewis.

In a bid to air problems and obtain fair treatment for local farmers, representatives of the National Farmers' Union put their worries to Hereford MP Paul Keetch who pledged to take up their case at Westminster. He described the situation as desperate.

There was a plea for the welfare scheme to be prolonged at proper rates in essential areas until the crisis was over.


And calls were made for the Government to compensate farmers for cattle that had gone over the thirty-month age barrier owing to the foot-and-mouth restrictions.

It was also essential that blood testing should be speeded up to enable the swifter lifting of form D notices, the farming representatives stressed.

Elwyn Maddy, chairman of the Herefordshire branch of the National Farmers' Union, said he was hopeful that the D notices would be lifted in about a month's time.


He understood at least ten days of blood testing remained in the county. This would be followed by 21-day period and provided 'everything was clear' the notices would start to be lifted."We need to get whole areas cleared but everything hinges on the last outbreak," he remarked. "As an industry we just cannot go into the winter as we are. It would be disastrous. We need the last outbreak behind us so that we can restructure."

Mr Maddy pointed out that the recent Brecon outbreaks were bad news as they were so close to Herefordshire. Arable farmers, too, said Mr Maddy, were facing a difficult time and had yet to receive the £34 million available to the Government to compensate for exchange rate differences."The returns to the producer in Britain are stupid. Our industry has got to change for the better," he said.

Other issues raised included the need to tighten import controls; the 20-day stock standstill proposal, considered unworkable; and the unfairness to British producers of the sheep annual premium scheme calculations.

Said Mr Keetch: "I will take these messages back to Westminster and continue to press the Government to ensure our livestock farmers are treated fairly."