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What a difference a year makes

PUBLISHED: 17:35 25 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:26 03 March 2010

THESE lambs gambolling without a care in the world, present a very different scene to that of farming a year ago.

In February 2001, the plight of animals across the country was thrown into doubt with the discovery of foot and mouth at an abbatoir in Essex.

THESE lambs gambolling without a care in the world, present a very different scene to that of farming a year ago.

In February 2001, the plight of animals across the country was thrown into doubt with the discovery of foot and mouth at an abbatoir in Essex.

The first case was confirmed in February 2001, and there followed months of hardship – both financial and emotional – for farmers across Britain.

Covered in mud, the picture of a lamb in East Anglia, taken by an Eastern Counties Newspaper photographer became a national symbol of the disaster, as the death toll from the disease climbed.

Pigs, sheep and cattle had to be culled, and meat prices plummeted, as the threat of the disease cast a terrible shadow over the land.

It travelled for miles on the air, unseen but awaited in fear, and precautions had to be taken at every farm to make sure all particles which could contain the germ were washed off before entry.

The scale of the disaster meant the army had to be called in to help the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries' battle to contain the disease.

Foot and mouth crept as near as Colchester, but in the end, Suffolk escaped.

But the county still had to cope with preventative culls, and the bodies of slaughtered livestock were brought to Great Blakenham.

Footpaths across the county were closed, and a host of industries were hit. The impact was felt in tourism, transport, property and retail to name but a few.

The Suffolk Show was cancelled, leaving charities and companies without an annual stage to present their products to the county.

For now the disease is confined to the past, and as the first few daffodils burst into flower, thoughts turn to Spring.

Nature is starting anew, and warmer weather will soon bring the chance to see lambs frolicking in fields across Suffolk once again.

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