9 March 2001
Farmers set to lose out on older cattle
By Donald MacPhail
AN ORGANIC farmer faces losing 20,000 on cattle caught up in movement restrictions after foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed on a nearby farm.
The Ministry of Agriculture has told Bernard Harris that he can expect no special compensation for stock which will soon be too old to enter the food chain.
Such problems look set to increase after a record number of new foot-and- mouth outbreaks were confirmed on Friday (09 March).
Twelve cattle in the 130-strong herd run by Mr Harris at Inkpen, near Hungerford, west Berkshire, will be 30 months old by the end of March.
BSE controls prohibit animals aged over 30 months entering the food chain, and producers are compensated under the Over Thirty Months Scheme (OTMS).
Mr Harris had hoped to move the animals this week under the one way journey farm-to-abattoir licensed limited movement scheme.
But foot-and-mouth has been discovered on a neighbouring farm at Stype, and his farm has been included in an exclusion zone.
Each animal could sell for more than 1,500 in Mr Harriss farm shop, but under the OTMS he could get under 300.
“I cant move my livestock and I hope I will be fully compensated by MAFF, ” said Mr Harris. “Someone should be liable for this or Im going to lose 20,000.”
Meat and Livestock Commission economist Duncan Sinclair believed there is a precedent in cattle held on-farm after tuberculosis testing discovered reactors.
Like those under foot-and-mouth restrictions, cattle in this situation would be prevented from sale, and might become over 30 months old in this time.
A case for compensation could be made – as with TB reactors – when the product has been devalued and gone in to OTMS, said Mr Sinclair.
But a MAFF spokeswoman ruled out any hope of compensation and said the TB case did not set a precedent.
Unfortunately, we wont be able to provide compensation for OTMS losses as we can only provide for those directly affected by the disease, she said.
By mid-afternoon MAFF had announced 16 new outbreaks, with more expected before the end of the day.