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NFU officials were today starting a further round of daily crisis meetings with the Government as the industry enters the third week of the foot and mouth disaster.

NFU President Ben Gill will be meeting Agriculture Minister Nick Brown to discuss the grim progress of the disease.

And NFU Director General Richard Macdonald and Deputy Director General Ian Gardiner will this afternoon talk to Government vets.

The NFU will press home farmers' concerns about aspects of the slaughter programme and further highlight the continuing problems on animal welfare caused by the restriction on movements.

The importance of slaughter taking place immediately after diagnosis and the need for animals to be incinerated or removed for rendering as soon as possible after slaughter will be top of the agenda.

NFU President Ben Gill said: "Farmers' emotions are running extremely high at the moment. Where foot and mouth has been diagnosed it is nothing short of agony seeing years of work disappearing before your eyes.

"And for those who have escaped so far, there is an excruciating wait to see the progress of the disease, always wondering: 'Will it be my farm next?'

"Farmers need to see the slaughter programme carried out as quickly as humanly possible and we will be talking to MAFF about what more can be done to ensure this happens. We know extra vets have been brought in to speed up the process, which is much needed."

He added: "There has been much talk today about whether the disease is under control or not. This is just semantics. At the end of the day, what we know all too well is that the situation is grim out there.

"We must all continue pulling out all the stops to eradicate this scourge from our countryside."

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