7 September 2001
Live auctions on verge of collapse

By FWi staff

BRITAINS livestock trading system is on the verge of collapse after ministers backtracked on a decision to allow animal movements between farms.

Industry leaders issued the warning following a new rule banning gatherings of more than two people on holdings connected with livestock sales.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We just want to make it clear that farm livestock sales are not allowed.”

Equipment sales would be unaffected by the amendment but those gatherings must also take place with strict biosecurity measures, he added.

Livestock Auctioneers Association chairman Peter Kingwill said live sales were essential, especially for farmers leaving the industry after foot-and-mouth..

He added: “If we are not careful it will soon start raining and we will have a welfare disaster that makes the spring one pale into insignificance.”

Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty is said to have had second thoughts about livestock sales following advice from Chief Scientific Officer David King.

Prof King has already persuaded the government to urgently re-tighten livestock movement restrictions in a bid to halt the spread of foot-and-mouth.

Officials banned all animal movements within a 6100-square-mile red box area covering Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire on Wednesday (5 September).

The decision represented a climb-down for the government which only 10 days ago made moves to allow a limited trade in livestock between farms.

National Sheep Association chairman David Smith said: “Unless we help those who are uninfected the whole livestock trading system will break down.”

Earlier, National Farmers Union spokesman Rob Simpson said restrictions had driven the industry into turmoil: Farmers dont know which way to turn.

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