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The Prime Minister today reiterated his commitment to provide all the resources needed to fight foot and mouth disease after NFU President Ben Gill told him: "You must not abandon us."

In an emergency meeting at Downing Street this morning, the NFU stressed that there was little doubt the situation would get worse before it gets better and every possible resource must be pumped into fighting the disease.

Mr Gill graphically explained the many grim details of the crisis, from farmers' concerns that infected animals are not being slaughtered and disposed of quickly enough to the nerve-wracking tension within rural communities.

Mr Gill said: "The Prime Minister stressed that we will work through this together and that the Government would put in all the resources needed to rid us of this dreadful scourge.

"We stressed that strong action is needed immediately on the issues causing gravest concern, particularly the need for quick slaughter and destruction of infected animals.

"We also highlighted the acute concern about the animal welfare implications of not being able to move animals, particularly ewes about to lamb.

"I will be meeting Agriculture Minister Nick Brown on this issue later today and we expect an imminent announcement about further possible measures. "

The NFU indicated its total opposition to vaccination - a policy that Mr Gill said "simply does not work".

Mr Gill also expressed his deep concern and sympathy for other allied industries suffering because of foot and mouth disease. The NFU will play a full part in the rural taskforce that the Prime Minister has to set up with the possibility of a rural fund.

On compensation for farmers, Mr Gill stressed again that there will be huge losses to the industry over and above the slaughter of affected animals. He said: "We will be talking to Government about what further compensation can be provided in due course but our priority now has to be to stamp out this disease."

He added: "The best thing that people can do to help us at the moment is to demand British meat, especially in the face of an onslaught of imported produce which threatens to undermine our market. We thank the British public for all their support so far and ask that they keep this up. "
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