4 May 2001
Stock still trapped in disease zones

By Robert Harris

HUNDREDS of farmers remain unable to send animals to abattoirs despite the easing of movement restrictions in foot-and-mouth areas.

Producers have been caught out by a rule which means animals can only be sent to an abattoir within the same infected zone.

North Yorkshire farmer Richard Scott, of High Farm, Hutton Mulgrave, near Whitby, has been unable to move stock for five weeks.

He is in an infected area after a foot-and-mouth outbreak five miles away. The nearest abattoir is in a separate infected zone six miles away.

“My local trading standards will not issue a license to move stock, because it would have to pass through a clean area to get to the abattoir.”

“I have about 100 hoggs about to cut their teeth and their value will be halved. I stand to lose about 2000 unless something is done.”

Ian Halley, of Whitby-based auctioneer Richardson and Smith, said at least 500 fat cattle as well as some hoggs are at risk.

He has spent the last fortnight trying to solve the problem.

“I believe we are one of three areas in the UK affected like this. Hoggs are a problem, but cattle are the main concern,” said Mr Halley.

“At the moment they are worth about 165p/kg. But many are getting too fat, and abattoirs will knock 20p/kg off.

“Others are getting close to the over-30-months limit, and once they go over this they will only be worth about 56p/kg.”

Mr Halley said the Ministry of Agriculture should “create a corridor” along the main road linking the two zones so livestock can be moved.

This would allow access to the nearest abattoir and also others up to Scotland and the west coast because infected areas overlap, he said.

“Its only about six miles of road, but it might as well be 600 at the moment,” Mr Halley told FARMERS WEEKLY.

The Ministry of Agriculture said it would have to carry out a risk assessment before it can make a decision about easing restrictions.

Unless the rules are eased, farmers will have to wait until the infected area status around Whitby is lifted.

“Vets have begun blood testing, but they have said it will probably be another two weeks before the order is passed,” said Mr Halley.

Farmers in Wales and Somerset face similar problems, he believes.

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