Governments must continue to be careful that map lines designed
to slow down the spread of Bluetongue (BT) do not wreak more
economic damage on the livestock industry than the disease itself.
This message was passed on again today by the National Beef
Association even though Defra has already agreed in principle,
after pressure from farmers and processors, that slaughter stock
can be moved from inside the BT control and protection zones
to approved abattoirs in other parts of England.
“The Association is pleased that Defra will allow feeders
on the wrong side of the BT line to direct finished stock to
English customers with whom they have longstanding arrangements
and so help to repair important food chain supply lines that
have recently been damaged,” said NBA director, Kim Haywood.
“However the industry does not yet know exactly is required
of abattoirs before they are approved by the MHS to receive animals
that have travelled from the BT zone - and other problems are
certain to emerge unless plants in Wales and Scotland can also
process stock that has been fed, and finished, inside current,
or newly emerged, BT areas.”
According to the NBA abattoirs in England that wish to take stock
from east of the BT line must apply to handle these animals and
then demonstrate that they can meet the required Defra criteria.
“This means that permission to slaughter these animals
will not be automatic. It is also possible that approval will
require the compulsory use of insecticides and acquisition of
these, if it is required, could take time,” said Ms Haywood.
“All of this suggests that the clearance of the huge backlogs that have
already built up behind the BT line will have a much slower start than expected
and it has to be hoped that Defra’s demands on chemical use, and other
conditions, will be sensible and proportionate.”
“It is also unfortunate that large abattoirs, like the St Merryn plant
at Merthyr Tyddfil in Wales are not yet available to regular Tesco suppliers
because the Welsh government has still to give permission. Similarly Welsh lamb
processors are blocked to any sheep moving off farms that lie east of Birmingham.”
“The NBA’s view is that Bluetongue controls should not prevent any
feeder or finisher from benefiting from the first principles of an open market
by being able to move specifically selected slaughter stock directly to their
first choice processor.”
“BT is a disease that is spread by midges, not by animals, and containment
of slaughter animals is a step too far. Welsh processors are already short of
the stock they require and if BT is discovered in Northern England it will not
be long before Scottish processors are among those asking for continued access
to their own regular suppliers too,” Ms Haywood added.
Overwintering Midges Could Have Caused Bluetongue Crisis
Spread of Bluetongue Confirms Animal Diseases on the Rise
Beef Finishers Blockaded Inside Bluetongue Zone