Legal action has begun against two animal testing laboratories for loss of earnings caused by this summer’s outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Lawyers acting for farmers have sent claims to the private firm Merial and the Government’s Institute of Animal Health, which both have laboratories at Pirbright in Surrey, where the outbreak is thought to have started.Speaking to the BBC’s Farming Today programme, the president of the National Farmers Union, Peter Kendall, said there is a determination to ensure farmers are properly compensated.During the outbreak in August, the NFU estimated that meat export restrictions alone were costing farmers £1.8m a day.Two official inquiries into the outbreak identified serious failings at both Pirbright laboratories.The strain of the disease found in infected cattle at nearby farms matched samples being worked on at both facilities.Derek Walsh, a lawyer from Thring, Townsend, Lee and Pembertons, who is working on the claims, said the test cases represent almost 1,000 farmers from all over the country.He told Farming Today that the exact level of compensation sought had yet to be calculated.

Image(s) provided by: