Farmers: we'll do whatever it takes
Farmers across Northern Ireland are "prepared to ensure whatever inconveniences are necessary" to prevent foot and mouth disease spreading to the local rural communities, the Ulster Farmers Union said last night.
UFU president Kenneth Sharkey said that the organisation supports Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew's immediate decision to ban the import of live animals from the mainland to Northern Ireland.
Mr Sharkey said: "A clear lesson from the 2001 outbreak is that swift action when a disease is detected is crucial."
He also revealed the Ulster Farmers Union will be working closely with agriculture officials in England and Dublin "to ensure all necessary precautions are taken as quickly as possible".
The UFU president added: "The situation regarding Northern Ireland will be kept under constant review.
"Farmers will be prepared to endure whatever inconveniences are necessary in the short run to avoid the disease spreading further. We hope this outbreak will be contained.
"In the meantime, farmers should continue to practise good biosecurity, monitor their livestock closely and familiarise themselves with the symptoms of the disease."
Meanwhile, it emerged last night that an annual farm show held in Co Monaghan will go ahead today as planned.
The show's organisers revealed that vigilance will be exercised on all entries from Northern Ireland.
The event, being held in Castleblaney, has already attracted around 2,000 entries from the border counties.
Show spokeswoman Theresa Forde said: "We don't foresee any problems and everything points to this being another hugely successful annual farm event, living up to its reputation as south Ulster's biggest agricultural and industrial show."