§ 8. Mr. Bill Michie
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the role of livestock markets on the spread of foot and mouth disease. 
§ Mr. Morley
The movement of sheep has been a key factor in the spread of foot and mouth disease. We estimate that some 700,000 sheep were sold through livestock markets in Great Britain in February before movement restrictions were imposed. The total movement of sheep in this period will be very much higher. I have launched a consultation on the issue of a standstill period following movements of sheep, goats and cattle, and will also be looking at questions such as traceability, the operation of markets and, in particular, out of ring sales.
§ 11. Mr. Paterson
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the foot and mouth crisis. 
§ Mr. Morley
Foot and mouth disease is having a devastating effect of farmers and others involved in the livestock industry, on the tourism industry and on rural communities in general. Experts agree that the nature and impact of the outbreak is unprecedented. Our top priority 281W remains to contain and eradicate the disease as quickly as possible. Separately we are providing assistance to those worst affected.
§ 16. Mr. Ian Bruce
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the level of farmers' incomes prior to the foot and mouth outbreak; and what assessment he has made of the effect of foot and mouth on this year's farmers' incomes. 
§ Ms Quin
Farm incomes have been seriously depressed. Average income from farming in 2000 was £8,500. This represents a drop of 25 per cent. in real terms as compared to 1999.
At this stage it is not possible to quantify the impact the foot and mouth outbreak may have on the incomes of the industry as a whole though it clearly has had a very serious impact on those farmers directly affected. That is why the government have already responded by introducing a number of targeted measures to assist the livestock industry. Overall, we expect the agrimonetary compensation and the welfare disposal scheme to provide over £400 million to livestock farmers.
§ 27. Mr. Randall
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent meetings he has held with farmers representatives in the last month to discuss the foot and mouth outbreak. 
§ 28. Dr. Palmer
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he has taken to preserve rare breeds during the foot and mouth outbreak. 
§ Ms Quin
Animals are slaughtered if they are found to be affected by foot and mouth disease. However, following the Chief Veterinary Officer's recent visit to Cumbria, we are reviewing the implications for rare breeds, particularly where these are located in the 3km zone surrounding infected premises.
§ Mr. Morley
I have talked to the Forestry Commission about its response to the foot and mouth outbreak on several occasions over the last few weeks. The most recent occasion was yesterday.
§ Ms Quin
[holding answer 30 March 2001]: In England, the regulations which govern the on-farm burial of animal carcases are the Animal By-Products Order 1999, the Water Resources Act 1991 and the Groundwater Regulations 1998.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has carried out an assessment of the risk due to BSE infectivity from disposal of cattle during the present outbreak of foot and mouth disease. 
§ Mr. Nick Brown
On 30 March, the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) considered the independent assessment from DNV Consulting of the public health risk due to BSE infectivity from burning cattle during the present foot and mouth disease outbreak. This assessment was placed in the Libraries of the House on 15 March. Taking account of comments from SEAC and the Environment Agency, this assessment has been revised to include the possible BSE risks from burying cattle carcases on farm and in landfill. Copies of this 1 April revision of the DNV risk assessment have been placed in the Libraries of the House, and are today being published on the MAFF Foot and Mouth Disease internet site.
SEAC advised that the risk from burning (or burying) cattle born on or after August 1996 would be at least 400 times lower than the risk from burning (or burying) a similar number of cattle born before this date. In the light of SEAC's advice, the Environment Agency is advising that, depending on local hydrogeological and other factors and subject to site specific risk assessments, cattle born on or after 1 August 1996 may be buried.