Hauliers taking precautions; spring produce imports still escaping disruption There are growing fears that the foot and mouth epidemic may yet hit fruit and vegetable distribution both from British farms and even extend to the Continent as more cases are reported daily. The sector has so far been little affected, although the British Potato Consortium reports that respected hauliers, while being allowed in and out of farms, are taking precautions. This has even included loading at farm entrances or road ends. Several horticultural conferences have been cancelled. Vegex, sponsored by ADAS and originally due to take place on March 1, has been rescheduled for May 17. One of the speakers was Douglas Henderson, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium. "We are becoming increasingly concerned about the effects," he said this week. "Many of our members who operate in the countryside are already following best practice by disinfecting vehicles. "Produce packers operate a vital daily network across the country supplying both wholesale markets and multiple RDCs." So far spring produce imports, which at this time of year come from across Europe, have not been restricted. The discipline requested by France, has only applied to lorries carrying meat. But Henderson admitted: "It does not require a large leap of the imagination to to envisage that these measures could be extended." The FPC does not intend to cancel its own conference next week. Henderson said the location at Belton Woods, near Grantham, was in an isolated area as far as livestock was concerned. {{M/E FRESH PRODUCE }}