A vet has recalled how farmers wept as she told them that their animals were infected with foot-and-mouth disease during the outbreak 20 years ago.

Christanne Glossop, who is now the chief veterinary officer for Wales, said: “We stood in the farmyard and they cried. Those men cried in my arms.”

The outbreak ravaged the countryside for seven months in 2001. It led to six million animals being culled across the UK, costing the taxpayer £3bn.

In Wales, more than a million animals were destroyed, with the Army called in to help.