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Beef Finishers Blockaded Inside Bluetongue Zone
03/10/07

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.

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beef cattle

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 contracts.”

”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 package.”

“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.”

link NFU Scotland Emphasises Need to Control Bluetongue
link NBA Scotland Advises Caution Over Regionalisation
link Yorkshire Select Beef in Guide des Gourmands

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