Article excerpt

A predicted loss of pounds 5 million per month in the local milk sector is the first sign of economic hardship caused by the Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak, said the Ulster Farmers' Union.

The Union warned that farmers in the Province `'will now be bracing themselves as the cost of Foot and Mouth takes hold.''

UFU president, Douglas Rowe, said: "Milk processors are warning the industry that export markets are being closed off and they are struggling to cope with surplus milk. Our priority is to ensure that milk is not destroyed but we must also do everything to protect dairy farmers incomes.

''We will be working to ensure everything is done to help with exports of milk and we will be investigating the option of intervention for dairy products."

Mr Rowe praised everyone involved in the dairy sector for co-operating closely and appealed to the general public to support all local farm produce.

The UFU said the financial cost to the local economy was now emerging and the need for vigilance was greater than ever.

l THE National Farmers' Union in England and Wales has estimated that if the Foot-and-Mouth outbreak is not brought under control in three months, the cost to the farming and food industry will be pounds 750 million.

The loss from the export ban and the restriction on movements of animals has been an estimated pounds 21m in the first week and about pounds 38m if the rest of the supply chain is included.

And if these measures last for three months, the cost to the whole industry could be at least pounds 775m.

But NFU president, Ben Gill, said these are very provisional figures based on a number of assumptions about the length, breadth and severity of the outbreak.

He said: ``It is a highly dynamic situation and changing all the time. We fear these losses could sadly turn out to be much, much higher. …