THE six-day, whole-farm standstill for livestock, announced by Lord Whitty, food and farming minister on Thursday of last week, will run from March 4 to July 31, with a review at the end of May. The changes do not affect pigs.

But there was a stern warning that the 20-day standstill would be re-introduced if the risk of disease increased or if farmers flouted the new system.

Individual farmers found to be breaking the law will have their right to move animals under a general licence removed.

Among the measures being introduced to improve disease detection and biosecurity are:

* putting responsibility on lorry drivers, farmers and others to ensure that vehicles are clean when entering markets;

* requiring auction market operators to sign a formal undertaking to comply with strict operating procedures;

l separating dedicated slau-ghter markets and other livestock markets in both time and space.

The Government is also to consult on the following proposals for introduction later in the year;

* revised foot-and-mouth biosecurity guidance by July 1 this year, as required under the Animal Health Act 2002;

* a ban on animals being kept on market premises overnight;

* a requirement that all livestock vehicles be cleansed and disinfected before leaving markets and abattoirs;

* a requirement for market operators to ensure that a vet attends every market;

* a requirement that farmers consult a vet at least annually for advice about disease detection, biosecurity and farm health plans.

The Government is also to commission further work into the impact of dealers on the pattern of livestock movements and the possibility of imposing a distance limit of 150km on the movement of animals through markets.

The Government will work with the farming and veterinary sectors on a package of education and best practice guidance covering the recognition and reporting of disease; the encouragement of farm health plans covering disease surveillance and biosecurity, and movement records