Welsh farmers have shown “remarkable resilience” 10 years on from the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, a union said today.
NFU Cymru said the 2001 crisis, which saw one million animals in the principality destroyed, devastated the agricultural industry.
But union president Ed Bailey added while the issue was still a sore point for many Welsh farmers, farming had made a steady recovery.
“There is no doubt that the FMD outbreak in 2001 was a catastrophic event for the livestock industry and for the image of not only Welsh but British farming,” he said.
“Ten years on, the industry has shown remarkable resilience and powers of recovery.
“Although it would be very wrong to think we have solved all of our problems, farming is in a much better place now.
“It is at the heart of the economy and central to providing the solutions to many of the issues facing this country – including producing more food while using less natural resource and impacting less on the environment.”
The 2001 crisis was the first outbreak of foot and mouth since the late 1960s. Across Britain, more than six million animals were destroyed – at a cost of #3 billion to the taxpayer.
Powys, Anglesey and Monmouthshire were the worst affected counties, and at its peak 35% of Wales was under restrictions.
Since 2001, new regulations have been introduced to try to avoid a similar devastating impact of the disease.
Individual sheep, like cattle, now have to be tagged for traceability.
And there is a six-day standstill of all livestock movements, which is aimed at slowing down the spread of infection, as well as stricter rules on hygiene when animals are being transported.