07 August 1998
Farmers Ferry ship to sail
— but under what name?
By Johann Tasker
OPERATORS of the ship that Farmers Ferry bosses hope will boost live sheep exports to France plan to sail from Dover next Friday. But it is unclear whether farmers or dealers will have control over its cargo of live lamb destined for Dunkirk.
Journey plans submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food indicate that the Cap Afrique, a roll-on roll-off ferry with room for about 10,000 sheep, will undergo routine berthing trials at Dover harbour next Thursday.
If all goes well, it is understood that the Cap Afrique will set sail for France on Friday, 14 August. But it remains to be seen under what company name the ferry will transport its first cargo of live lamb this season.
The charter on the Cap Afrique is currently held by Brindie Ltd, a company whose director is named on accounts lodged at Companies House as New Zealand horse exporter Murray Hamilton.
Farmers Ferry, a consortium of five Welsh sheep producers, hopes to increase live lamb exports to France by taking control of Brindie. Rather than running the company at a profit, they have pledged to subsidise shipments using money donated by UK farmers.
Farmers Ferry representatives approached Mr Hamilton some weeks ago with a view to purchasing Brindie and thus gaining control of the Cap Afrique. The proposed deal is now on the verge of becoming reality.
Farmers Ferry bosses have already agreed to take on Brindies existing facilities and staff in the UK. But the final price they will pay for Brindie remains undecided.
Many UK farmers who have already given money to Farmers Ferry thought the consortium was going to charter its own ship and go into competition with Brindie. But purchasing a company that is already up and running is preferable to going it alone, said Mike Gooding, Farmers Ferry spokesman.
“It would be silly to have put something in competition with what is a proven, successful company,” he said.
“It would have been the more expensive option. This way, we can ensure the Cap Afrique will run at a price that will encourage export buyers, rather than making profits for its shareholders.”
Animal rights protesters opposed to live exports have stepped up their protests in reaction to Farmers Ferrys plans in an ongoing attempt to halt the live export trade.
Animal activists picket over Farmers Ferry, FWi, 5 August
Animal activists plan to blockade Farmers Ferry, FWi, 29 July
MP Livsey backs Farmers Ferry, FWi, 20 July
Positive response for Farmers Ferry, FWi, 10 July
Farmers Ferry chiefs slam Barclays pull-out, FWi, 12 June
Farmers Ferry ready to weigh anchor, FWi, 29 May