The NFU today welcomed agreement by EU Agriculture Ministers on an up-dated EU Directive on foot and mouth disease.

The amended directive takes into account the experiences of the UK outbreak in 2001 and the scientific developments since then. There have also been changes by the OIE* to its guidelines on the use of vaccination and regaining disease-free status.

Speaking from Luxembourg, where he is following the negotiations on CAP reform, NFU President Ben Gill said: We welcome the approval of this updated FMD Directive, which takes into account developments since the 2001 outbreak and reflects many of the conclusions and recommendations of the UKs FMD inquiries.

It provides useful clarity of the requirements of member states before, during and after a future outbreak.

The Directive rejects routine vaccination of animals and maintains the culling of infected and susceptible animals as the principal approach to eradicating FMD. It requires early consideration be given to the use of emergency vaccination following confirmation of a disease outbreak.

Mr Gill added: We welcome the fact that with advances in science the possible use of emergency vaccination is a more feasible and workable option.

Nevertheless, the decision as to whether or not to use emergency vaccination must be based principally on veterinary judgement in the context of the actual disease outbreak.

Mr Gill welcomed the emphasis in the Directive on the need for surveillance as part of a disease prevention programme. But, he added: Prevention will always always be better than cure. That is why we continue to call for strict controls at out borders to safeguard this country from illegal imports that pose particular disease threats to the UK.