28 June 2001
NFU slams ‘hollow’ movement offer
By FWi staff
HIGH charges are stopping beleaguered producers from taking advantage of a relaxation of foot-and-mouth rules, claim farmers leaders.
Industry had welcomed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs move to allow stock movement from infected areas direct to slaughter.
But producers desperate to gain access to markets outside of their area, increasing outlets and easing welfare problems, face an extra 100 in costs.
DEFRA has ordered that animals moved under these circumstances must be inspected by a private veterinary surgeon, adding 50-55 to the bill.
On top of this, cleaning and disinfecting charges, which must be conducted at a licensed centre, take the total up to about 100 a load.
The National Farmers Union said the relaxation of restrictions will be a hollow offer if farmers are forced to pick up the tab.
NFU Deputy President Tim Bennett said the NFU was taking the matter up with Secretary of State Margaret Beckett.
Mr Bennett said: “It is right that there should be a high level of veterinary inspection because of the increased risk posed when moving animals from an infected area to a clean area.
“But it will be a hollow offer if ministers do not make good on the charges — the veterinary inspections are something they have ordered.
Mr Bennett suggested that abattoirs could help streamline the process and reduce costs by getting authorised as cleansing and disinfection centres.
“With many farmers literally holding on by their fingertips there should be no question about them picking up the tab, he insisted.
The fact of the matter is that they cannot and should not pay these extra charges.”
ABP Yorks livestock manager, Emma Andrews-Moynan, says the abattoirs customers caught up in infected areas have had cattle building up on farm.
We would like to take their stock but many of them have told us that vet inspection and vehicle disinfection costs are prohibitive, she said.
The National Beef Association has also asked DEFRA to review vet costs, but says the departments move to relax movement controls is more significant.
Robert Forster, NBA chief executive, said: We regret the extra costs, but opening up infected areas has raised prices and allowed sellers to match cattle to the right type of abattoir.
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