More collection centres receive the green light
By James Garner
MORE collection centres are opening their doors this week, after a slow start in getting approval from local trading standards offices.
A total of 16 centres had been given the go-ahead at the beginning of this week, three weeks after the scheme was set up.
Wales had taken the lead, but this week has seen a spate of English centres approved. One of the first was Truro Market in Cornwall, this Wednesday.
Jim Large, of Truro Market, expects keen interest once the news spreads that the market is open as a collection centre every Wednesday.
Much of the delay setting up collection centres has been blamed on local trading standards offices and their interpretation of the guidelines.
A spokesman from the Meat and Livestock Commission says the main concern has been whether centres could be cleaned and disinfected adequately.
Peter Kingwill, head of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, says: "It depends on interpretation. Some local trading standards offices require a car park that is concrete or Tarmac so it can be washed down."
But there have been calls for more sites so that a national movement network can be re-established. The National Beef Association also believes that sites should have a wider remit.
Chief executive Robert Forster says: "If we want a beef industry left we must provide collection centres. There are tens of thousands of stock trapped in infected areas that need to be moved. Store cattle are in the wrong place and becoming uneconomic because they are not growing.
"Breeding heifers are trapped on farms, but are not being fed well enough to be put to the bull. The situation is building long-term problems. Dairy bred calves are still on rearing farms and cannot be transferred. This needs addressing as dairy-bred beef accounts for 50% of supplies."
He says auction markets could have been more enthusiastic in applying for collection centre status.
But according to Mr Kingwill there are over 60 applications for collection centres in the pipeline, many from marts.
"Applications are going ahead, but a lot of auctioneers would like more of a guarantee of throughput levels. We never thought that collection centres would be a paying proposition, but they do have to cover costs."
One way of doing this, he suggests, is to open up the over 30-month scheme and allow collection centres to bring together eligible cattle so that markets can cover their costs. *
North Devon Meat* Mon/Wed/Fri
(Gordon Martin & Son)
Melton Mowbray Tues/Thurs
St Asaph Mon/Thur
Newcastle Emlyn Thur
All are auction markets except *abattoir (cattle only); **private holding (sheep only) ***private holding.