6 March 2001
Industry backs holding centres

By FWi staff

A DECISION to use livestock markets as holding centres before sheep and cattle reach abattoirs has been defended by industry figures.

This was agreed by industry leaders and Ministry of Agriculture officials on Monday (05 March), under limited movements during the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, said bringing animals from different areas together was a risk worth taking.

“Everything is a balancing act,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

“In a perfect world you would lock up a livestock system of say 30 million animals and say right, well just freeze this thing.

“But its animals, and animals are on production systems and if you freeze it, you dont just get welfare problems but supply problems.”

He said a collection centre relieved pressure on farmers, increased abattoir throughput and provided more UK-produced meat for consumers.

Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore said collection centres should not pose a danger to stock.

He said livestock goes direct from there to the slaughterhouse in less time than the foot-and-mouth incubation period.

Mr Scudamore also defended the licensed movement scheme, which relies on farmers first checking stock are disease-free.

While there are concerns that producers could miss signs of the disease, Mr Scudamore said it was impractical to have vets on every site.

“Weve done a risk assessment and the view is that it is unlikely they could spread the disease when they go,” Mr Scudamore told Farming Today.

Meanwhile The Independent calls on the British Horseracing Board should show solidarity with farmers and cancel the Cheltenham Festival.

The Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed 74 cases of foot-and mouth disease in the UK.

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