1 March 2002

Centres set to ease transfers

REVERSE collection centres are the latest idea from the National Beef Association to help ease the passage of store and breeding cattle to finishing and breeding farms.

Robert Forster, chief executive of the NBA, says the government is looking at the organisations idea as one way of allowing cattle to be transferred around the country. Currently, animals can only be taken to one farm after being sold in a livestock market.

Multiple drop-offs of animals bought in marts was normal practise before the foot-and-mouth outbreak, as it allowed stock farmers to make up full loads and share costs. But it has been banned under movement measures an-nounced by Lord Whitty on Feb 5.

Mr Forster reckons the veterinary argument for not allowing multiple drop-offs is a "thin one", based on risk assessment.

He suggests using collection centres, located at strategic points throughout the UK, as a venue to which cattle could be transported after sales. Buyers would have to collect their own stock, but at least the animals would be closer to home, says Mr Forster.

"There are a lot of pedigree breeding sales coming up and the spring store cattle sales will soon be on us. Having dispersal centres running for these would allow groups of buyers to fill a wagon up." &#42