12 June 2001
‘We’d be better off with virus’

By FWi staff

CASH-STRAPPED Scottish farmers facing an uncertain future claim they would have been better off if their stock had contracted foot-and-mouth disease.

Producers in High Risk Areas (HRAs) say they are being discriminated against as their outlets are limited and prices lower than those in other regions.

On Tuesday (12 June) producers from restricted areas petitioned the Scottish Parliament for aid to top-up depressed prices.

The petition, gathered by the Independent Farming Group (IFG), calls for producers to receive the same price for stock as farmers who had theirs culled out.

IFG founder Andrew Wood, whose farm at Auldgirth, Dumfries-shire narrowly missed culling, believes he would be better off if the virus had struck.

“If Id got the disease Id not have had this uncertainty now, not knowing what the future holds. Its like being on death row.”

The petition states that “the bizarre situation” means that those culled will weather the storm, while those trying to farm within an HRA are struggling.

They “will have incurred such high levels of cost with the opposite scale of return, leaving a vacuum that cannot be controlled,” warns the IFG.

A stigma of stock being in an infected area — even though they are not infected — makes the situation even worse, it adds.

While steers average 1.41/kg in Provisionally-Free Areas and At-Risk Areas, producers in HRAs receive only 1.20/kg, says the IFG.

And heifers which average at 1.13/kg in the other areas, make only 1/kg within HRAs.

“In the interests of free trade and equal trading it cannot be presumed morally right nor democratically just to expect those within the restricted area to compete with their competitors, with movement restrictions in place,” claims the petition.

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