Concern at cull scheme running as 11 appeal
By Tony McDougal
ELEVEN farmers are to appeal against MAFF over the selective cull amid widespread concern about the schemes progress.
MAFF said the appeals were from farmers who objected to the BSE cohort identification by state vets, and those who wished animals to be culled quicker than the two weeks earmarked between provisional slaughter orders being issued and final slaughter.
Further concern over the running of the scheme has been raised by farm unions, the abattoir industry and valuers. Tony Pexton, NFU deputy president, said the union was receiving calls from farmers concerned that provisional slaughter orders for cattle identified as BSE cohorts were taking up to a month to be processed at Tolworth.
MAFF vets have also been taken off the selective cull to deal with the outbreak of Newcastle disease in the West Midlands and Lincs and the job shift had slowed progress, according to Mr Pexton.
And the Ulster Farmers Union claimed the Intervention Board had broken its promise by failing to pay farmers for animals culled under the scheme within 21 days.
"Farmers are still awaiting payments for cattle slaughtered on Feb 28. We have been told that it is simply a hitch, but hope it wont happen in the future."
Keith Flemington, official valuer with Glos-based. Bruton Knowles, said he was deeply concerned that MAFF appeared to be saying it reserved the right not to take all voluntary cohort animals forwarded by farmers.
"I understand there has been some resistance from them to take these animals due to financial constraints." But MAFF rejected the allegations.
As FW went to press, MAFF figures showed that 696 animals had been culled, with 529 slaughtered in Northern Ireland, 167 in England and Scotland and none in Wales.
Up to 35,000 BSE cohorts had been identified, including some from the 1989/90 voluntary cohort year, from 941 natal herds.
"We are expecting slaughterings to pick up both in Great Britain and Northern Ireland over the next week," said a MAFF spokesman.
But the trickle of slaughterings has also provoked an angry response from the abattoir industry. Peter Scott, Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers spokesman, said the Intervention Board had failed to meet its guarantee of providing minimum numbers of cattle for slaughter within the scheme.
Mr Scott said abattoirs had to use separate slaughter lines from OTMS animals for BSE cohorts, and that the low input was proving uneconomic and in some cases financially unviable.