Auctioneers in plea for cash
AUCTIONEERS are calling for emergency financial assistance to get them through the foot-and-mouth crisis.
The plea comes as ANM Group announced it was closing its auction mart at Maud, Aberdeenshire. It is the first casualty of the crisis, but ANM chief executive Brian Pack expects there will be more unless help is forthcoming.
"If there is no aid package it is difficult to see what other outcome there can be, particularly for marts specialising in livestock marketing.
"I know what it is costing us a week and it is a really tough figure."
Some markets might be forced to shut because they are too old and their fabric and condition is considered unacceptable, says Mr Pack.
He adds that there is a good precedent for auction marts to claim emergency aid because abattoirs received assistance from the government in 1996 when it was clear that many would shut because of additional costs of BSE control measures.
Rate relief may also be granted to markets. Many have rate agreements based on animal throughputs. Now there are no sales, it is hoped rates will be waived.
Maud will hopefully be used as a collection centre, if this method of moving animals straight to slaughter is given the green light. But it will not re-open after the form D restriction on auction marts is lifted.
According to the Livestock Auctioneers Association, the 183 markets it represents in England and Wales are losing £1m/week.
The association, frustrated that the government is dragging its heels over proposals to use auction marts as collection centres, has offered its members staff to MAFF to help tackle the crisis. *