Skipton Auction Mart has cancelled all future livestock shows and sales until further notice in response to the re-occurence of foot and mouth.

The mart acted quickly today after the latest confirmed outbreak in Surrey and the government re-imposing the national ban on the movement of livestock.

General manager Jeremy Eaton said the majority of the 500 store cattle sold at Skipton on Wednesday had been moved from the mart as normal ahead of the ban, and those that remained after the ban came into place were inspected by a vet before being moved on under licence.He said: “This is a double body blow for the region’s farmers and others involved in agriculture. We have had no option but to clamp down once again and postpone all sales and shows at what is the height out our annual show season.

“We had only just resumed normal trading this week and we are now back to square one, exactly where we were six weeks ago.

“It is also devastating that export markets, the lifeblood of many local farmers – the sheep trade in particular – have also been closed down.

“It comes as an even bigger blow that, as summer turns to autumn and people look to house stock or finish stock that they would normally have sold during the course of the next week of grass, escalating feed costs are now going to cause severe financial hardship to the farming community.

“We are once more monitoring the situation very closely and will put into force any actions or further restrictions required by Defra.

“In the interim, farmers with stock suitable for direct sale to abattoirs are urged to pre-enter their livestock to the mart office to enable sale to prime stock buyers to go ahead once restrictions ease.”

Normal trading at Skipton only resumed at the beginning of this week. On Monday and Tuesday, almost 15,000 head of livestock passed through the sales rings at Skipton. Monday’s opening day saw a turnout of over 4,000 sheep, along with 85 prime cattle, 34 dairy cattle and 259 calves, followed on Tuesday by over 10,000 mule gimmer lambs and gimmer shearlings.

Early casualties of the shutdown are Thursday’s shows and sales of store lambs and pedigree Beltex sheep, the Monday Craven Dairy Auctions and other high profile pedigree sheep sales due to have been staged over the coming weeks.