The vast majority of culled-out farmers will re-stock their farms, although many with fewer animals, the first comprehensive survey of farmers post-FMD has found. Only 6% indicated they wanted to move out of farming.

Many are looking at diversification, entering 'green' schemes or turning organic, the survey found.

The telephone survey of more than 1000 farmers whose businesses were affected by the foot and mouth outbreak was conducted for DEFRA by ADAS.

Lord Whitty, Minister for Food and Farming said: "All of these farmers suffered terribly from foot and mouth and it is very encouraging that they are thinking positively about the future. It is particularly pleasing that many are seriously considering new diversified and environmental options for their farms so that re-stocking takes place in an environmentally sustainable context.

"The Curry Policy Commission has indicated that it sees this as the future and the government is in full agreement with this.

"We have a range of schemes to assist farmers and free business advice is available which I hope will be of help to those recovering from foot and mouth.

"We are currently seeking views on implementation of the sheep national envelope, which provides additional funds that can be used to help sheep farmers adapt to changing circumstances."
 
The main findings are:

·78% of infected premises and 65% of premises classified as Dangerous Contacts intended to restock and continue farming as soon as possible;

·only 6% of those classified as a foot and mouth infected premise indicated that they would definitely be 'moving out of farming';

·25% of the holdings surveyed are 'definitely' or 'possibly' planning to diversify into non-traditional or non-farming activities;

·25% indicated that they would 'definitely' or 'possibly' move some of all of the land on their holding into environmental schemes;

·There is interest among a small percentage of farmers in running an organic enterprise. If all those indicating that they planned to run such an enterprise did so, this could see a doubling of the number of such farms;
 
·populations of sheep and pigs may reduce significantly in the short term, but significantly recover in the medium term.  The number of cattle may also reduce in the short term but to a lesser extent. The number of dairy enterprises will, the survey suggests, decrease but it is unclear whether production will also fall;
 
·10% of Infected Premises employed extra staff, but 24% reduced the number of people working on the holding. 62% of Infected Premises saw a reduction in staff or hours or both. This survey anticipates that the longer-term trend of a reduction in the numbers of those employed in agriculture will continue.