The confirmed number of cases of foot and mouth in the UK rose to 188 on Tuesday as France discovered its first case.

The French Agriculture Ministry confirmed the country’s first case of foot and mouth in cows on a farm in Mayenne in north-west France. The Ministry confirmed that the cattle had been grazing on land next to a farm that had imported sheep from Britain.

In the UK, the Army has been called in to help tackle the outbreak but agriculture minister Nick Brown said he wanted to avoid a situation where a mass animal cull would have to be carried out, though some culls may be inevitable.

He said: “Yes we are talking to the army about providing help but we’re not using marksmen today to go out and shoot animals. There is no proposed cull of wildlife, nor do I have a unit of army maskmen on standby.

“The only army resources we are using so far are a small number of vets from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps who are reinforcing the state veterinary service.”

A taskforce led by environment minister Michael Meacher has been set up as to examine the impact of the foot-and-mouth outbreak on Britain’s rural economy after talks between the government, farmers, the tourist industry and rural businesses on Tuesday. Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers’ Union, is expected to have further talks with the Prime Minister Tony Blair to assess the ‘second wave of cases’ in the third week of the crisis.

The Irish Government continued to slam Britain’s handling of the crisis on Tuesday. Hugh Byrne, the Irish natural resources minister writing in Ireland’s Independent newspaper, said the UK was ‘far too complacent’, and had adopted more stringent controls. published a feature on foot and mouth. To read it, click here.