14 August 1998
Farmers Ferry denies launch rumours
as ship sails from Dover
By FWi staff
FARMERS FERRY officials have dismissed speculation that the company will transport its first cargo of live sheep to France within the next 10 days. The news came just hours after the ship that Farmers Ferry hopes to buy sailed from Dover amid protests from animal rights campaigners.
Some media reports stated today (Friday) that Farmers Ferry bosses had scheduled a launch date of Sunday, 23 August, for their maiden voyage. But a company spokesman claimed no official or unofficial date had been set.
The Farmers Ferry will not sail this season unless company bosses can get their hands on a ship with enough capacity to make live exports economic. The problem is that such ships are few and far between.
Farmers Ferry officials have been locked in negotiations for weeks to buy Brindie, an export company which currently holds the charter on the Cap Afrique, a roll-on roll-off ferry with room for about 10,000 sheep.
The Cap Afrique sailed to France this morning. About 40 protesters demonstrated against the sailing, which delivered nine lorries of sheep and two lorries of pigs from Dover to Dunkirk.
The buy-out talks between Farmers Ferry and Brindie are thought to be their final stages. Farmers Ferry has already agreed to retain all Brindies staff and facilities. But a price has yet to be decided.
“Until they sign on the dotted line, theres no way I can say when the launch date will be,” said Farmers Ferry spokesman Rhodri Kendall.
The five Welsh farmers who founded Farmers Ferry initially announced a launch date of mid-July. That was then postponed to mid-August. Sources said today that Farmers Ferry will gain control of Brindie, but its impossible to say when.