Farmers could be forced to take out insurance against future epidemics once the foot-and-mouth outbreak is over, according to insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT).

A spokesperson for JLT said: “Given the circumstances surrounding the epidemic it is probable that it will become mandatory for farmers to be covered if they are to continue to receive government support.”

The National Farmers Union estimated that only 10% of farmers had cover against the loss of livestock.

Fewer still are covered against loss of revenue when animals are quarantined, restricted from going to market or cannot be moved.