5 March 2001
Farmers fury over licence delays
By Alistair Driver and John Burns
RELIEF felt by some farmers finally able to move livestock for slaughter is matched by fury among others who cannot get hold of the necessary licences.
The Ministry of Agriculture says hundreds of farmers from areas free of foot-and-mouth disease had received movement licences on Monday morning.
More than 170 abattoirs are approved to take from farmers who have to apply for licences from local trading standards offices.
But licences have been hard to come by in some areas.
One west country producer said media reports suggesting abattoirs are working again have infuriated local farmers.
Ive been trying all weekend to get one these licences to move stock but trading standards kept telling me to wait until Monday. Now on Monday they still have nothing to send out, he told FWi.
On top of that we cannot find out whether we are in a restricted area now that more cases have been confirmed, he said.
He said farmers need to know the exact situation so they can order extra feed if necessary.
MAFF should have been more realistic with the start date before embarking on such a huge administrative project, he added.
His comments were echoed in other parts of the country.
There were reports of unrest in Norwich after local trading standards offices failed to process licences in time to allow movement on Monday morning.
But things did go according to plan in other areas.
Cumbrian beef and sheep farmer Gordon Capstick said he had no difficulty obtaining a license enabling him to take five heifers to a Blackpool abattoir.
He told FWi local trading standards officials faxed the license to him after he had given details of his proposed journey over the phone.
It had taken 45 minutes to get through, however.
He was stopped twice along the M6 and M55 from Milnthorpe to Blackpool, by police and trading standards officials keen to inspect his paperwork.
By the time he arrived at Winters abattoir, there was already queue of farmers waiting to unload.
It is very much a relief. We have had no money for a fortnight and we have got to pay feed companies and wages, he said.
MAFF only had patchy details of licences that have been awarded.
A spokeswoman said on Monday morning 71 have been issued in Aberdeenshire and 45 in Lincolnshire.