Livestock farmers in south Essex have refused to fully back vaccination proposals to control the spread of foot-and-mouth disease - until more is known about its likely impact.

The Government "accepts in principle'' advice from the chief vet Jim Scudamore and chief scientist Professor David King that a very limited programme to vaccinate cattle in Cumbria, and possibly Devon, was "justified as a means of protecting those animals.''

However Downing Street acknowledged that a vaccination programme requires farmers' support - something they feel they lack.

There is no indication of a vaccination programme for south Essex. Farmer Paul Woodford runs Bolt Hall Farm, Lark Hill Lane, Canewdon along with his brother Mark. They have kept their 70 cattle in sheds because it is still not known whether the virus can lay on pastures. He said: "There are so many conflicting arguments that it is confusing to know which way to go."

The National Farmers' Union said there are still far too many unanswered questions about the likely impact of vaccination. Robert Bache, Rochford NFU's chairman, said:"We are extremely cautious."

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