One of the most important agricultural fairs in the Swiss calendar, the BEA 2001, has opened its doors in Bern without many of the animals which have been a traditional part of the event.This content was published on April 20, 2001 - 15:54
Switzerland has not been directly affected by the current outbreak foot-and-mouth disease, but as a precaution organisers have banned all cloven-footed animals, such as cattle, sheep and goats from the nine-day event, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.
The Swiss defence minister, Samuel Schmid - speaking at the opening of the fair - underlined the difficulties facing the country's agriculture industry in the face of the foot-and-mouth and mad cow disease (BSE) outbreaks.
He added that the government had taken every precaution to ensure that Switzerland remained free of foot-and-mouth disease.
Schmid told about 800 specially invited guests from the worlds of politics, finance, the crafts and farming that there should be greater understanding for the decision to withdraw horses from military service.
A protest group is opposing the move, which is included in plans for reform of the armed forces.
Despite the threat of foot-and-mouth, the director of BEA, Karl Bürki, insisted that visitors would be able to feast their eyes on around 500 animals a day, ranging from cats and dogs through to chickens and ostriches.
swissinfo with agencies
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