11 April 2001
Cautious welcome for livestock plan

By Isabel Davies

ABATTOIRS have reacted cautiously to a new scheme allowing healthy animals from areas infected with foot-and-mouth into the food chain.

The scheme will allow up to 70,000 prime cattle, 900,000 sheep and 336,000 pigs in infected areas to be moved under licence to slaughter from 23 April.

Junior farm minister Baroness Hayman, who announced the scheme on Wednesday (11 April), said the aim was to avert a domestic meat shortage.

A new carcass stamp will allow healthy animals from 2098 farms to be sold into the food chain, so long as the farms are 3km away from an infected holding.

But John Dracup, procurement manager for St Merryn Meat, said he needed more details before saying whether the company would take part in the scheme.

“We are well aware there is healthy stock in these areas for which there could well be a retail market,” he told FARMERS WEEKLY.

“But until we see what controls and processes will be in place, it is difficult to comment.”

Richard Stephenson of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, said he too would like more details before assessing the prospects of the scheme.

He said he would like to know whether the intention was to have a different stamp from the one used for other meat for human consumption.

But meat processor ABP said it was a step towards normality. A spokesman added: “Supplies have been getting really tight and it will be a major help.”

The company would be no more concerned about the possibility of inadvertently taking in an infected animal than it was already, he added.

Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, said the introduction of the scheme would have dramatic all-round benefits.

“It will immediately reduce accommodation pressure on hundreds of badly overcrowded farms, and put more home-killed beef on the market.”

Primestock sourced from inside infected areas would have the same public health credentials as those purchased from outside, he said.

“Our only regret is that this extremely valuable movement concession could not have been made much sooner,” Mr Forster added.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage