31 August 2001

DEFRAs movement plan slammed

INDUSTRY representatives have been quick to condemn much of DEFRAs movement plan.

David Brown, secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, said the decision not to allow auction marts to resume sales of cattle had come as a complete shock. "At the stakeholders meeting last Friday we were anticipating the green light from DEFRA to allow cattle sales to start again in September in clean areas. No one expected this."

The NFU said the new controls would hit those in infected areas particularly hard. While farmers accepted that preventing further disease spread was a priority, deputy president, Tim Bennett, said: "Some of these producers have had animals on their farm for six months and are at their wits end."

The union was also concerned that redesignating foot-and-mouth status by county, rather than area, could trap many more producers in infected counties. Helping them was now a key priority, said Mr Bennett.

He was also disappointed that calf and store markets had not been allowed to resume. This would have eased movement problems, particularly for calves, and increased price transparency.

Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, blamed the governments chief scientist for a last-minute intervention, which he claimed wrecked months of careful negotiation. "The only concession he has allowed is the removal of the welfare condition on longer distance licenses."

Apart from this, the new rules meant the new autumn movement system was more restrictive than the one it replaced, said Mr Forster. &#42