By Farmers Weekly staff
PRODUCERS hardest hit by changes in the over-thirty-month scheme faced increased costs of up to 3.50 a beast this week following the issuing of new tender-based contracts for abattoirs processing cull cattle.
The new provision announced by the Intervention Board in mid-December brought a storm of protest from markets, particularly in the east and south west where many producers faced a sharp rise in transport costs following the removal of key plants.
“Distances have gone up by about 70 miles and thats increased costs by 3.50 a head.
“But as long as numbers hold up, producers appear prepared to accept it,” says David Kivell of Holsworthy.
The change in transport arrangements follows the loss of West Devon Meats from the IB list – a move which now sees many cattle having to be hauled to Somerset for slaughter.
At Northallerton, Yorks, costs have also risen by about 2 a head with the loss of Nidderdale Foods, Harrogate, with stock now being transferred to Lancashire.
“Numbers are holding up and the scheme appears to be working out better than we thought,” said auctioneer Derek Tyson.
Further south at York producers routines have remained unaltered despite a switch to a Sheffield-based abattoir.
“At least weve managed to keep the same collection day and costs have gone down marginally,” explains Helen Hammond of Stephenson & Son.
The east of England remains another hard pressed area. But despite a 1200-signature petition, Norwich-based auctioneer Tim Brassington says the new arrangements have gone smoothly and backlogs should be no longer than a week.
“Its not that bad,” he comments.
Many centres expect waiting lists to be cleared over the next few weeks as cattle numbers wane ahead of turnout and spring calving.