The government has been asked to help assess how to limit the financial impact of the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Stuart Roberts, British Meat Packers Association director, said processors were facing costs “well into six figures” and said the whole industry needed to discuss how to work together to overcome the effects.

‘Very concerned’

“A number of our members are very concerned about the financial impact, but the outbreak doesn’t just affect processors.

“We are calling for the government to bring all the players together – farmers, processors and retailers – to have a discussion about what the costs are and how to avoid the financial burden being disproportionate to one sector.”

Tight margins

Mr Roberts said the processing industry had been hit by “a raft of additional costs” following the outbreak, including the reduced value of hides, export losses and increased transport costs.

“Earlier this week one of our members had to use transport with a capacity of 3500 sheep to source just 800 animals,” he said.

“Processors are already operating on tight margins so these additional costs are making things very difficult.”

Remained closed

The costs of foot-and-mouth have already been felt by several meat processors across the country.

Bishop’s Castle Meat, the only firm in Shropshire able to take cattle, sheep and pigs, closed this week following the outbreak.

The plant’s director, Colin Kinmond, decided not to reopen the plant after the processing ban was lifted.

‘Financial difficulties’

“Foot and mouth just finished us off,” Mr Kinmond said. “We have decided to sell it on.”

Welsh abattoir Cig Cibyn has been forced to make job cuts after it was forced to suspend operations following the export ban.

About 70% of the sheep and lamb handled at the abattoir is exported, and Sian Pritchard, Cig Cibyn co-director, said the loss of 47 jobs was necessary to avoid “real financial difficulties”.