By FWi staff

CONSULTATION on the 20-day movement ban of livestock sold through auction marts once the foot-and-mouth outbreak has been eradicated has been extended because the issue is so complex.

A MAFF spokesman told FARMERS WEEKLY that such a complicated decision would not be taken in the run up to an election.

The industry will now report back to the Government on 11 June, four days after the general election, but it appears deeply divided.

The meat industry is by and large supporting a standstill. Peter Scott, British Meat Federation director general, said he recognised problems with the movement ban, particularly for sheep farmers.

“Ultimately, it is a matter of balance. We have not finished our consultation process yet, but we do recognise a need for recorded movement.

“The confidence in British food is pretty fragile. I think in general the meat industry will back moves to prevent this.”

John Thorley, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, agreed another meat scandal would be disastrous, but refused to let the sheep industry be blamed for the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Meanwhile, the Meat and Livestock Commission reacted angrily to criticism from the National Beef Association that it should “come clean” and decide whether it supported the proposal or not.

An MLC spokesman said: “We are consulting the industry. We have not reached a decision yet. But we cant win if we take our time or if we move quickly. It is a no-win situation.”

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