New movement rules in chaos

24 September 2001

New movement rules ‘in chaos’

By FWi staff

THE government has been accused of gross ineptitude as new arrangements to allow autumn movements of livestock descend into chaos.

New licences to allow cattle and pig movements in foot-and-mouth at-risk and high-risk counties should be available from Monday (24 September).

The licences permitting commercial movements at the busiest time of the year should be available from local trading standards authorities.

But farmers are experiencing severe delays in obtaining them, making the commercial and animals welfare problems thousands are already experiencing worse.

A movement licensing scheme in disease-free counties began last week.

But Dr Jonathan Birnie, north-east NFU policy adviser, says he does not know of a single farmer who had a licence by Monday morning.

He said the governments handling of the situation has been inept.

“The chances of people in at-risk and high-risk counties of getting licences this week are minimal.

“We have a shambolic situation and the authorities appear to be in disarray,” he said.

“The problem is a lack of information from Defra headquarters.

“Local officials who should be able to give instructions to farmers are still awaiting instructions themselves,” he said.

He said the delay is “confusing and frustrating” for farmers, who believed they would be able to move stock off crowded farms when the arrangements were announced.

North-east union officials were due to meet Defra officials on Monday to try and get some answers, he said.

There are similar problems in the north-west.

NFU policy adviser Rodney Bacon said the new movement arrangements will be a “real test” for the trading standards offices.

“I do not know if they have sufficient resources to cope or whether their computer systems are up to it,” he said.

He said the situation is complicated by the extra infected area in place in large parts of the north-west of England.

Reports of difficulties are repeated across the country.

The south-west NFU, for example, has been inundated with calls from farmers unable to get hold of licences.


CLICK HERE to receive FWis FREE new daily email newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest farming news and foot-and-mouth updates

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

See more