The foot-and-mouth crisis will cost Britain as much as £9 billion this year, it was claimed today (March 16).

The influential economics think-tank, The Centre for Economics and Business Research, originally put the cost at £2.7bn at the start of the outbreak.

But the centre has revised its figures as the disease spreads like wildfire across the country.

The likely cost in lost output for farmers and their suppliers is expected to hit £3.6bn.

But another £6.4bn will be wiped off the nation's wealth because of lost tourism revenue and consumers being forced to pay more for their food.

By comparison, the total bill for the BSE crisis came to £5bn.