Pig movement ban is eased - and hope rises over auctions

by 5m Editor
16 August 2007, at 9:11am

UK - SCOTLAND'S livestock farmers should be feeling much more positive this morning following a detailed briefing in Edinburgh yesterday by those in the front line of the battle to control the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Charles Milne, head of the state veterinary service in Scotland, announced a range of movement-relaxations as from midnight last night. Most relate to the movement of pigs and will allow producers to relocate animals to other premises within a range of 50km, up to 100km if that holding has no animals to susceptible to FMD.

The best news of all is that there is every prospect of a resumption of live auction sales - though not before 8 September at the earliest.

In addition, the two abattoirs in Scotland at Brechin and Kilmarnock that operate the older cattle disposal scheme will be permitted to resume that work tomorrow. The only condition on this front is that the Meat Hygiene Service has enough personnel to supervise the processing of these animals.

As from Monday, milk recorders and artificial insemination technicians will be allowed back on farms. However, it may be later next week before contract operators, including sheep shearers, can resume their operations.

The resumption of the export trade in both lamb and beef, worth in the region of £35 million, has been a key priority for the industry, especially at this time of year when throughputs are at their highest. An informal meeting is scheduled in Brussels on Monday, but the big decision is unlikely to come before the standing committee on the food chain and animal health convenes next Thursday. As EU rules stand there should be no export trade from the UK until 90 days after the last outbreak of FMD.

There appears to be considerable sympathy throughout the EU for the UK's plight, especially since it seems that the cause of the outbreak was not down to negligence on the part of farmers.

Milne, however, urged caution, saying: "Everything is dependent on finding no further outbreaks, but the information we are receiving from colleagues in England suggests that things are under control. I would urge everyone to remain vigilant."


5m Editor