Livestock industry pushes for fast track to abattoirs

UK - The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was praised for imposing the standstill as soon as the Surrey foot-and-mouth outbreak started. But it is costing the industry millions a day with a ban on exports, closed livestock markets, and abattoirs beginning to run out of supplies.
calendar icon 9 August 2007
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Taking precautions: A worker disinfects Hexham Cattle Market, in Northumberland. Tuesday's market was cancelled

Tony Thompson, senior auctioneer at the £5.5m Thirsk mart, which opened last October, understood the proposed scheme could be operating by the end of the week, with markets acting as collection centres a short time later.

Today''s cancelled fatstock sale at Thirsk would have featured 500 to 600 cattle; 1,000 to 1,500 sheep and 150 pigs. The turnover would have been about £500,000.

Stephen Walker, auctioneer at Leyburn mart, said the cancelled sale here would have featured 1,200 to 1,500 prime lambs generating a turnover of £60,000 to £70,000. advertisement. The lambs are still in fields, with the danger they will miss their market.

Mr Walker said: "Farmers are generally a bit despondent as prices were not very good anyway."

The loss of the export market would eventually mean more meat in the country and the threat of depressed prices.

If marts do re-open, it would be as collection centres only and it could be some time before actual sales are held.

There are more than 7,000 livestock farmers in Yorkshire and the North-East.

David Maughan, who farms near Darlington and is a member of the North-East regional livestock board of the National Farmers' Union, urged everyone to maintain tight bio-security.

He said the standstill meant farmers face loss of earnings and higher feed costs. He said: "More than that, though, a continued movement ban threatens animal welfare, with farmers unable to move fallen stock and carry out routine tasks such as sheep dipping and shearing." It was heartbreaking to see exports banned just a year on from the re-opening of markets.

He said: "This threatens to undo the progress we have made over recent months in achieving a more sustainable farm gate price."

David Fursdon, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), was yesterday asking Defra about on-farm burial as an interim measure to avoid problems with fallen stock.

Source: The Northern Echo
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