3 March 2001
Livestock markets still under threat
By James Garner
BRITAINS livestock markets continue to face mounting losses despite an easing of animal movement restrictions imposed because of foot-and-mouth disease.
Farmers who meet strict conditions in areas unaffected by the disease can now apply for licences to send livestock straight from farms to designated abattoirs.
But livestock markets will remain shut at least until after talks with government officials during the week beginning Monday (5 February).
Even if auctioneers can survive lost revenue, it is their belief that something must be done to ensure that buyers remain in business.
Peter Kingwill of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, said markets turned over 25m a week. On commission rates of 2.5%, thats 625,000 of lost income.
Welshpool, one of the busiest Monday markets, sells 8000 sheep and 350 cattle a day and has probably lost 15,000 of income from the movement ban.
Only a few costs can be cut by auction marts, said John Jones of Welsh Livestock Sales, which runs the Welshpool market.
He added: “We will save a little on casual staff and have put all our full-time staff on holiday. But we will still have to pay rates.”
Graham Ellis, of Colchester Market, Essex, said: “We have to keep our head above water. Staff will continue to come in, but we have cut advertising already.”
But Frank Yeo, director of KVN Stockdale, which owns markets at Hallworthy and Hatherleigh, near the Devon foot-and-mouth, was optimistic.
“All markets are suffering, but there will be a backlog of stock and after
movement bans are lifted a fair proportion of these will come forward,” he said.