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Farmyard disease hits agricultural courses

The financial impact of foot-and-mouth disease on agricultural colleges has started to bite, as more commercial activities have had to be shut down, writes Ngaio Crequer.

Nine agricultural colleges, including all those in Wales, are either closed or have stopped running most courses because of the disease. Capel Manor College, in Enfield, north London, has closed its spectacular garden, which would normally bring in pound;120,000 a year in gate receipts.

Plumpton Colege in East Sussex, has had to close its large sports hall to the public. "We would also normally be selling pigs," said principal John Brookham. "I dread to think how much all of this is costing."

This week, Howard Petch, of NAPEO, the body which represents agricultural colleges, was due to contact the main awarding bodies, to discuss the possibility of extending the academic year, and to consider whether any students could be exempted from some tests.

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