Angry Australian farmers have blasted the National Farmers Union (NFU) in the UK for using foot and mouth disease as an excuse to avoid the rules on free trade established by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). At a National Farmers' Federation conference held yesterday in Canberra, president of the NFU Ben Gill stressed that Australia would not be permitted to increase meat exports to Britain. Gill argued that moving meat over such long distances creates hygiene problems, but Australian farmers believe the suggested ban is a protectionist measure. They threatened to take international action if a ban on beef or lamb exports to the UK is implemented.