9 March 2001
Collection centres on track?

By Alistair Driver and James Garner

AUCTIONEERS expect markets to be used as collection centres for livestock going to slaughter by Monday week (19 March) – despite growing Government doubts.

The Ministry of Agriculture had said the centres would be in place soon after the first licences were given to farmers to take livestock direct to slaughter.

Livestock from different farmers could be collected and transported together to abattoirs under the collection centre scheme.

But, speaking at a briefing on Friday (09 March, junior agriculture minister Baroness Hayman said MAFF is still taking advice on whether to allow centres at all.

Government vets fear collection centres might increase the risk of spreading disease and abattoir owners say their premises stand more chance of infection if centres are used.

Chief government vet Jim Scudamore said sheep that have recovered from the disease and appear healthy could pass on infection in the confinement of a lorry.

“Movement would have to be strictly controlled to make sure there is not the potential for re-infection,” he said.

Baroness Hayman said MAFF would defer a decision until after the EU standing veterinary committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday (13-14 March).

EU legislation stopping livestock markets operating has made it difficult for the UK to use markets as collection centres, said Livestock Auctioneers Association chairman Peter Kingwill.

But he was confident that the green light will be given for 19 March, even though participating markets will need to be disinfected.

This has also been a factor in the delay, he said.

“It will also take a period of time to cleanse and disinfect markets before they are approved for use,” he said.

Currently, all markets are under a Form D notice from MAFF, meaning they will have to be disinfected under the supervision of the State Veterinary Service.

“Its a belt-and-braces approach that will take most of next week.”

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