Mixed response to livestock industry support initiative
By Shelley Wright
MOST dairy farmers selling calves at Salisbury market are happy to donate £1 per animal to fund the livestock industry support initiative (LIST).
Sheep farmers, however, are more reticent, with the majority unwilling to contribute 20p a lamb. LIST aims to promote the British livestock industry, and redress some of the one-sided publicity given to animal rights groups (News, May 26).
At the market on Tuesday, director of Southern Counties Auctioneers John Bundy said about 75% of calf sellers now pay the voluntary levy.
He is delighted with the response and hopes LIST will defend the farming industry. Such a group is long overdue, he adds. "Although the NFU in some regions has done a reasonable job of putting over farmings case, nationally the union has been a waste of time," he says.
Mr Bundy suggests the levy has not taken off in the sheep sector because producers have other outlets for stock.
Although most dairy farmers pay the levy, some remain adamant that live exports should be stopped. One farmer, who buys and rears dairy bull-calves, insists the trade should end.
But Wimborne dairy farmer Tony Drake reckons LIST is an excellent idea. "Anything that puts the true message over to the public must be right, and Im quite happy to pay £1 a calf," he says.
While attitudes differ on whether or not live exports should continue, most insist that hauliers who flout transport rules should be punished. "Animals can travel quite happily if they are looked after. But it is wrong to cram them into a lorry for hours on end – thats what gets us all a bad name," says local sheep farmer Ray Walker.
Mr Walker will not contribute to LIST. He says exporters and hauliers should pay if they want to publicise the positive aspects of live exports.
Fellow sheep farmer Geoff Shadwell agrees. "When we are getting only 120p/kg for lambs there just isnt enough margin there to give anything away."