10 May 2002

Extra biosecurity

measures will be extremely costly

THE cost of meeting DEFRA biosecurity rules at this weekends Newark and Notts show is likely to run into thousands of £s, says show chief executive Adrian Johnston.

"We have had to employ a biosecurity consultant and will need to employ at least 15 extra staff to carry out security and cleansing and disinfection duties."

At this years show, cattle lines will be closed to the public and they will not be allowed to touch animals, he says. "Even in the absence of foot-and-mouth, we were planning to only allow public access to stock via guided tours. The risk of being sued on health and safety grounds was becoming too great."

Instead, there will be a grandstand close to the cattle area. "As well as formal competitions, we will have handlers explaining to visitors about stock and conducting a question-and-answer session.

"In a survey we did three years ago, 85% of show visitors said they came to see livestock."

The signs are that livestock entries will be significantly down. "Beef entries are 196 compared with 450 in previous years. But we will let all classes stand, even if we only have one or two entries. Exhibitors need to know we support their efforts to continue showing."

In the ring, judges will be allowed to handle animals, but will need to wash their hands between breeds. "A judge will not need to disinfect between handling animals in a Blonde dAquitaine class, for example, but if he then goes to judge Simmentals he will."

Cleansing and disinfection of vehicles will also be carefully organised at Newark and Notts. "On Friday and Saturday evening, when the show is closed, owners of vehicles will be allocated a time slot when they can use C&D facilities."

He expects frayed tempers as exhibitors adapt to biosecurity requirements, but Mr Johnston insists: "Should anyone jeopardise our show licence by laziness or refusing to co-operate, they will be asked to leave the showground forthwith."

Mr Johnston is prepared to put up with requirements this year, but hopes they will not be repeated in future. "People walking around in white coats with disinfection equipment present a bad image of the British livestock industry to show-goers." &#42