Farming Faces A Frenetic Month As Markets Reopen

UK - October has arrived and there is a real taste of autumn in the air. This is normally one of the busiest months of the year, but this time it promises to be nothing short of frenetic, with livestock markets open this morning for the sale of prime stock and on Thursday auctions of store and breeding cattle and sheep recommencing for the first time, apart from a very brief interval in early September, since 3 August.
calendar icon 1 October 2007
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The backlog of animals awaiting marketing is colossal and on a scale the industry has never experienced before. I have no doubt that, over the weekend, auctioneers have been burning the midnight oil seeking to rearrange sales that should have been held weeks ago. This has to be a carefully co-ordinated operation with a considerable degree of liaison between the major auction companies. Failure on that front will lead to nothing short of chaos.

Then consideration has to be given to the difficulties hauliers will face over the coming weeks. Quite frankly, there are not enough vehicles to shift all the cattle and sheep and it may well be that there has to be some form of rationing. The Department of Transport has been incredibly short-sighted in not allowing a modest relaxation of the rules for drivers' hours and that continuing failure will do nothing to ease the problems. Drivers of milk tankers have had a dispensation since early August and I cannot for the life of me understand why the same should not be the case livestock lorries.

The great imponderable now is whether there will be a welfare scheme for the estimated 250,000 sheep in Scotland for which there is unlikely to be any market. In more normal times, close on 30 per cent of the lambs, especially lightweight animals, would be exported. For the time being that market remains closed, though there are some hopes that it may re-open later this month on a regional basis.

However, it is quite clear that England's department of the environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) never wanted to have anything to do with a welfare scheme where the bill would land at is door in Whitehall.

Source: Scotsman

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