Farmers’ leaders have welcomed the news that auction marts outside the official High Risk Area will be able to re-open from Thursday October 4, provided there is no further spread of food and mouth disease. The marts were closed after the disease was discovered on farms in Surrey to prevent any spread of the virus although it was possible to move animals for slaughter.

Upland farmers were especially hard hit by the restrictions as this is the time of year when they recoup much of their income by selling livestock on to lowland farmers for fattening and breeding. Some were reported to be only weeks away from financial ruin and other rural businesses, such as hauliers and the marts themselves, which rely on farming were also reported to be struggling.

Dorothy Fairburn, regional director of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), said: “This will ease the strain a number of businesses have been feeling over the past few weeks. This is subject to no further changes in the disease situation and will be subject to strict bio-security measure but for those outside the High Risk Area it is a good sign that things are moving in the right direction.”

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