Slaughter cattle in Eastern England must be allowed to cross
the line marking the edge of the current Bluetongue (BT) protection
zone, and travel to abattoirs in the unrestricted area, otherwise
established English retail supply chains will be damaged and
specialist finishers forced out of business.
So says the National Beef Association which is alarmed at the
implications of the new BT protection zone which has cut off finishing
units east of a line stretching from Grimsby in the North, Banbury
in the West and Brighton in the South from their regular customers.
“The majority of the biggest and most specialist beef finishing units in
the UK lie to the east of this boundary and because slaughter cover within the
protection zone is particularly thin most feeders are finding it impossible to
sell cattle,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.
“As a result all the big retailers are cut off from many of their most
reliable beef suppliers and specialist companies are also finding it difficult
to secure the regular number of high specification cattle they need to meet branding
”Finishers are in trouble too because their yards are full, they cannot
sell cattle which are already moving out of specification, cash flow will soon
be a big problem and on top of this none of them will be looking for replacement
store cattle when auction markets open up tomorrow (Thursday October 4th) – which
means cattle farmers in breeding and rearing areas will also be affected.”
To ease these mounting problems the NBA would like Defra to consider ways in
which these specialist beef businesses can re-connect with their customers – many
of whom have abattoirs as far away as Lancashire, Devon, Wales or Shropshire.
“If the protection zone was extended to cover the whole of England slaughter
cattle would once again be able to move freely to their regular destinations
and feeders could once again buy in replacement cattle,” said Ms Haywood.
“The NBA would like Defra to examine the idea that if BT protection zones
are not considered carefully, and lines on the map kept to an absolute minimum,
then movement controls aimed at protecting farmers from BT could wreak more economic
damage than the disease itself.”
“If the current protection zone boundary is not extended the finishers
to the east of it face months of movement restriction and the majority will undoubtedly
go out of business unless government is prepared to finance a special rescue
“Alternatively Defra could consider allowing slaughter cattle to move out
of the protection zone directly to a nominated abattoir and accept that in many
instances this will require a relatively long journey.”
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