6 September 2001
Tighter restrictions devastate farmers

By FWi staff

LIVESTOCK movement restrictions imposed in northern England will have a devastating impact on thousands of producers, farm leaders have warned.

Restrictions designed to stop foot-and-mouth disease affect huge swathes of Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland, as well as Cumbria and Lancashire.

But National Farmers Union spokesman Rob Simpson: The result is an industry being driven further into turmoil. Farmers dont know which way to turn.

Every time there is a glimmer of light at the end of a long dark tunnel, their hopes are dashed by a further disease outbreak and further restrictions.

Producers must be supported if there are to be any livestock farmers left in northern England after foot-and-mouth, added Mr Simpson.

Ways must be found of moving breeding and store animals to farms that need them without compromising biosecurity and without risking disease transmission.

Blood testing should enable the scientists to be satisfied that certain groups of animals do not harbour the disease.

September traditionally heralds the start of the breeding period for cattle and sheep when rams have to be moved to the ewes, and bulls to the cows.

But the restrictions mean this will not be possible for many farmers.

Autumn livestock sales would also traditionally begin this month a time when livestock producers, especially in the hills, make most of their income.

But previous foot-and-mouth restrictions across of Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland have already caused massive losses for many farmers.

These latest restrictions will increase those problems, said Mr Simpson.

Farmers in Northumberland and Durham have had hopes dashed that they would be able to sell store calves and breeding stock to lowland farms.

They are worried about animal welfare over the coming months as many do not have the necessary housing or fodder to look after them during winter.

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