Foot and Mouth Standstill ‘Crippling’ Livestock Industry

UK - The current 20-day standstill, introduced as a foot and mouth control measure, is crippling Scotland’s livestock industry and rendering livestock markets meaningless. NFUS has called for separation arrangements to be reintroduced immediately to avoid a total meltdown in the industry.
calendar icon 9 October 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
Currently, any farmers bringing new stock onto their farm face a 20-day shutdown with no animals moving off. The only exceptions for this are for movements of breeding male animals and for movements of animals direct to slaughter, if the meat is to be sold in Great Britain. Prior to the latest foot and mouth outbreak, a 13-day standstill was in place. However, crucially, farmers could have an area of their farm approved by the local government office as a separation arrangement. This allowed new animals to go into a bio-secure, more isolated area, thereby exempting the other animals on the farm from the standstill requirement.

The current 20-day standstill is different to the 21-day standstill for animals going to slaughter for export; for which there are no exemptions.

The consequences of the domestic 20-day standstill include cancelled sales - because there are no buyers willing to take new stock home - market prices dropping even further and animals being left unsold in markets because farmers simply can’t afford to take them home and face the 20-day closure.

NFUS President Jim McLaren said:

“Our members are simply at their wits’ end. The 20-day standstill is causing markets to collapse. Prices are horrendous, buyers are non-existent and animals are being abandoned at markets because farmers simply can’t afford to take them home if they are unsold and see their business effectively closed for three weeks.

“The vets and Scottish Government tell us that the disease risk is slightly higher with separation arrangements. Such is the financial disaster being played out at the moment, that the time has come to accept a slightly higher risk and reintroduce separation arrangements. They are approved by local area offices and allow new animals coming on to farm to be isolated, but with other animals still able to move off.

“I have reiterated the points again this morning to the Chief Vet and Cabinet Secretary – we need an announcement now to remove this current restriction.”
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