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Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the value in 2000 was of agricultural exports from farms based in Shropshire, broken down by agricultural products; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Quin: Statistics on the value of agricultural exports are only compiled for the UK as a whole. No information is available on the value of exports from farms based in Shropshire. The total value of exports of food, feed and drink from the UK in 2000 amounted to £8.6 billion.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what advice he is issuing in relation to the foot and mouth epidemic to local authorities about pedestrian access to canal towpaths. 
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Ms Quin [holding answer 8 March 2001]: The Ministry has not issued specific advice regarding pedestrian access to canal footpaths. However we have posted advice on MAFF's website regarding restrictions and precautions on outdoor activities in an infected area. We advise members of the public not to take part in activities on land where livestock is kept, or which might bring them into contact with susceptible species.
The Ministry has issued advice to Local Authorities on the Foot and Mouth Disease (Amendment) (England) Order 2001 and the Foot and Mouth (Amendment) (No 2) Order 2001. These Regulations allow, with exceptions, MAFF and local authorities to prevent the entry of any person onto any land or into any agricultural building in a controlled area (currently Great Britain has been declared a controlled area). They also allow local authorities to prohibit the movement of members of the public onto any land where there may be animals and onto any footpath or right of way within identified areas in their districts, for the purpose of preventing the spread of foot and mouth disease. These restrictions could be applied to canal footpaths.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on compensation arrangements for animals culled because of possible infection with the foot and mouth virus, with particular reference to (a) effects on hill subsidies and environmental allowances if stocks have been removed thus contravening the requirements for receiving subsidy, (b) the time scale for payments to be made and (c) valuations. 
Ms Quin: We are aware that, as a consequence of foot and mouth disease, farmers are facing difficulties in respect of CAP subsidy schemes, including those funded under the England Rural Development Programme. Although some of these difficulties may be covered by force majeure provisions, some will need changes to specific regulations. We are in urgent discussions with the European Commission about them. In the meantime it is important that farmers contact their Regional Service Centre if they believe they will have difficulty in complying with scheme requirements.
Arrangements are in place to ensure that compensation claims for animals slaughtered to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease will be processed and paid as quickly as possible. We aim to pay compensation to owners within about a week of slaughter taking place.
An independent valuation is carried out on the animals which are due to be slaughtered and the owner is invited to agree a statement of valuation. If an owner chooses to reject this valuation, he may call in his own valuer so that the matter can go to arbitration.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what criteria are used by his Department to define an outbreak of foot and mouth disease that has more than one geographical location associated with it. 
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Ms Quin [holding answer 15 March 2001]: An outbreak of foot and mouth disease is declared when disease is confirmed on any separate or distinct holding. For example, if a single business consisting of two separately located farms had foot and mouth disease confirmed at both locations, this would be treated as two separate outbreaks.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what advice he has given to retail premises specialising in products for farmers about the risk of cross-infection of the foot and mouth virus. 
Central to this advice is that people should follow strict cleansing procedures which would include leaving vehicles outside the farm, disinfecting boots and wearing boots or clothing supplied by the farm. People working in the countryside should ensure that all mud, slurry and manure is washed off before they leave the premises.
It is essential that all visits to farms and possible contacts with animals are recorded. The records should include the date and time of the visit. Should disease occur on a farm then these records will be used to trace movements and possible spread of the disease.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if outbreaks of foot and mouth disease have occurred in the vicinity of landfill sites; and if he will make a statement about the implications for the control of the disease. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 15 March 2001]: Information as to whether infected premises are located in the vicinity of a landfill site is not readily available. However, veterinary advice is that landfill sites have not played any part in the spread of the disease.
Ms Quin [holding answer 15 March 2001]: If the Ministry were to approve vaccination against foot and mouth disease, vaccine would be dispatched to local control centres. Veterinary surgeons employed by the Ministry for the purposes of foot and mouth control would be responsible for the vaccination of susceptible species. There would be no cost to livestock farmers.
Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for what reason the Prosper De Mulder rendering plant in Widnes was chosen as the sole site to dispose of animals slaughtered as a result of foot and mouth disease; what plans he has to use other rendering plants in the United Kingdom; and if he will list the locations of other rendering plants. 
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a range of bio-security considerations. Following the successful use of this facility, a further site near Exeter is now being used and further sites are under consideration.
Mr. Gale: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of controls over the importing of fruit and vegetables hand-carried by visitors to the United Kingdom. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 19 March 2001]: An assessment of the plant health risks from passengers' baggage was carried out in 1992, as a result of which personal imports from outside the EU of vegetables (except potatoes) and up to 2 kg of fruit are permitted. Customs officers seize fruit in excess of 2 kg, and any potatoes, when they are detected at entry. There are no restrictions on the quantity of fruit or vegetables which may be brought into the UK from within the EU.
Mr. Morley: I understand that the Environment Agency is starting work on studies leading to the preparation of a flood defence strategy for the River Ouse and its tributaries. It is expected that the strategy, which will seek to identify sustainable options for flood defence in the catchment, will take eight to 12 months to complete. The timing of applications for grant aid on individual schemes will then be a matter for the Agency.
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