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In this report from The Times, Nick Brown, the then Minister for Agriculture advised farmers to take out insurance against foot and mouth disease. The date of the article? 9 January 2001 - six weeks before the outbreak officially began on 20 February.

Tuesday, January 9, 2001,
by Valerie Elliott, Countryside Editor.
Original here

FARMERS are being encouraged to take out higher insurance cover to protect their business from outbreaks of animal disease after the Government ruled out financial aid. The move is likely to cost the average farm at least an extra 500 a year. On large commercial farms the cost of insuring whole herds could be as much as 10,000 a year.

With the agricultural industry in crisis, farmers are reluctant to meet extra costs. Many are already cancelling insurance policies.

Nick Brown, the Agriculture Minister, believes, however, that the industry must shoulder part of the risks of potential health problems in livestock and cannot rely on taxpayers' money to solve every crisis. Farmers are being encouraged to insure against possible outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, sheep pox, avian influenza and swine fever. Ministers accept they will have to pay in the event of, for example, a future BSE crisis if it is proven that scrapie is hiding a BSE epidemic in sheep. BSE controls have so far cost more than 4 billion. The decision by the ministry to address farm business risk follows uproar among pig farmers affected by last year's outbreak of swine fever, the first for 14 years.

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