THE foot and mouth epidemic claimed its 2,000th victim yesterday, a small hill farm on Crosby Ravensworth Fell, near Penrith, Cumbria, where 128 sheep were slaughtered.
Despite this grim milestone, the National Farmers' Union was putting on a brave face.
NFU Deputy President Tim Bennett commented: "This depressing figure must be put into context. This has been the worst outbreak of the disease ever known in the world and all the signs are that it is now in its final stages.
"In our worst nightmares we could never have imagined just how significant an epidemic this would be when we heard about that first case. But, despite the bleak headlines, the huge efforts being made mean the situation is improving every day."