25 February 2000

Now carcass plan all set for ferrymen

FARMERS FERRY, the producer-owned company which has revived the trade in live animal exports, is to launch a business to boost carcass sales to overseas buyers.

Company bosses are remaining tight-lipped about the venture which will be officially unveiled at Frances Salon International de lAgriculture show in Paris on Monday (Feb 28). But the business will be a sister company aimed at developing the European market for carcasses rather than live animals, farmers weekly can reveal.

Same principle

The carcass company will operate on the same principle as Farmers Ferry which has exported about 1.2m live sheep abroad in the past 18 months.

The move is likely to be welcomed by animal welfare campaigners who claim that journey times are too long for exported live animals and slaughter conditions abroad are often inhumane.

Uncertain future

Uncertainty still surrounds the future of exports by Britains biggest livestock haulier – Yorkshire-based F Machin and Sons Ltd. The company is in a quandary because journey times for livestock are limited to 14-hours without a rest and it takes 14 hours 47 minutes to transport sheep from the companys base at Brandsby to Central France.

This week, Machins won the right to have its case considered by the European Court of Justice after the Ministry of Agriculture refused to extend the time limit.

The company argued that hundreds of sheep are suffering needlessly because they must be unloaded just 47 minutes short of their journey and rested for 24 hours before continuing.

Fundamental issues

Referring the companies case for consideration by the European Court of Justice, Mr Justice Moses said the issues raised were of "fundamental importance" to European law. But the judge said that, had he decided the case himself, he would have found in favour of the MAFF and dismissed Machins judicial review challenge.