The deadly threat of another outbreak of the killer foot and mouth
disease still hangs over every farmer in the country, it was claimed

      The grim warning came from a North Devon farmer who lost his entire
herd in the foot and mouth crisis after it erupted in 2001.

      Shebbear farmer Ted Haste lost 189 pedigree cattle in the outbreak and
is still battling two years on for compensation for £30,000 worth of damage
he said was caused on his farm by those who carried out the cull.

      Speaking as a new report into handling of the outbreak revealed
"inexcusable" errors, Mr Haste said it gave him "no comfort whatsoever"
about the handling of future incidents.

      He said: "Illegally imported meat is still coming in and while it
does, the threat of another outbreak is hanging over every farmer in the

      Other North Devon critics said the new report by the Commons Public
Accounts Committee failed to show the way forward or any lessons learned.

      Bill Harper, who heads Holsworthy's Harpers Home Mix Animal Feed, was
on the key stakeholders group which met regularly throughout the outbreak,
to exchange information. He said the meetings had simply petered out. He
added: "This report contains nothing about what the next steps should be. We
need information about disease control."

      Ron Dawson, of the Meeth-based Ash Moor pit protest group, said: "No
lessons have been learned."

      James Morrish who heads the South West Rural Stress Information
Network, said he was hugely disappointed to see just two paragraphs in the
new report regarding illegal meat imports.

      He added: "I was so concerned that I rang Heathrow to ask about the
situation and was put through to 16 different people and one even told me
'foot and mouth was over two years ago'."

      Farmer Mr Haste, added he thought DEFRA had damaged relations so badly
with farmers that they would fail to receive co-operation in the case of
another outbreak.

      North Devon was one of the areas hardest hit by foot and mouth
disease.Tens of thousands of animals were slaughtered and many farmers faced
financial ruin.

      The huge funeral pyres which were lit to dispose of the carcasses were
an ugly blot on the landscape and only now is the tourism industry
recovering from the effects of the outbreak.