4 September 2001
Cattle breeders plead for winter help

By FWi staff

CATTLE breeders face bankruptcy and an animal welfare crisis over the winter unless the government acts quickly, industry leaders have warned.

The National Beef Association wants a government rescue plan to ease problems caused by a tightening of foot-and-mouth movement restrictions.

Foot-and-mouth rules mean that livestock in designated high-risk counties will have to stay within individual county boundaries from 17 September.

But the beef association believes animals may starve and farms will face bankruptcy because of a shortage of forage and livestock accommodation.

It wants the government to organise a scheme to get available forage and bedding on to farms where it is most needed.

Help is needed to move stock from overcrowded cattle-only farms to temporary accommodation, said NBA chief executive Robert Forster.

The association has also asked the government to allow cattle to be moved across county borders in High Risk areas in the north of England and Wales.

Profoundly damaging problems for cattle farmers could be solved if cattle are given more freedom to move than sheep, said Mr Forster.

This would allow hill and upland cattle from Cumbria and Northumberland and Durham direct access to arable based feeding farms in North Yorkshire.

Similar benefits would apply in Wales and the Welsh Borders where suckled calves from Powys could find winter quarters in Herefordshire or Gwent.

Mr Forster said at least 95% of the 30,000 weaned calves now queuing up in Powys are normally sold outside the county.

Less than 25% of the 25,000 animals waiting to be sold in the most heavily restricted area in Northumberland would normally stay in the county, he added.

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