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Stackyard News Aug 07

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FMD - Important Week for Scottish Livestock Sector

Scotland’s red meat industry is entering a critical week with crunch talks in Brussels on unwinding European export restrictions set to begin. 


shorthorn cattle

The Brussels veterinary committee, the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (ScoFCaH), will meet on Thursday when member states will consider the latest disease situation and its implications for exports from Scotland and the rest of Great Britain.

NFU Scotland is continuing to work with the Rural Affairs Secretary, Scottish Executive officials, vets, meat wholesalers and retailers on unwinding foot and mouth-related restrictions.  The latest relaxation allows farmers to move animals within their own business, providing the movements are no further than 8 kilometres.  On top of this, farmers in Scotland’s islands can now move animals under general licence to a farm on the mainland.  Welfare movements of up to 50 km, and in some cases 100km for pigs, can also now be arranged under a specific licence. 

NFUS President Jim McLaren said:

“Informal talks with European Commission officials on exports begin today. The importance of getting Scottish red meat back into Europe cannot be over-estimated.  All the current evidence suggests the disease has been contained within a few square kilometres in Surrey, allowing us to pursue options for getting Great Britain’s meat export trade back up and running.

“The domestic movement restrictions have hit hard.  The 10 or more individual relaxations we’ve had so far have been important and they keep getting added to.  We stressed last week that movement of animals within a business for management, as well as welfare, reasons was a top priority and I’m pleased they now have the go-ahead.

“Talks also continue on the use of collection centres for slaughter stock.  Collection of animals from farms to go to abattoirs is limited to single-pick-ups, making many journeys uneconomic.  Therefore options for operating collection centres, where farmers could take their stock to a single point to be collected by hauliers, are being explored.  That is obviously not ideal for pigs, so discussions will continue on alternative options for them.

“Much has been made of the proposed 10 September start date for livestock sales.  If the disease situation remains as it is, I view this as the worst-case scenario.  The date could move forward and we’ll be pushing to get the earliest possible resumption.  It is particularly critical for the sheep sector as delays in sales will have a knock-on impact well beyond this summer. 

“Much more may be clear on that front and others after this Thursday’s Brussels meeting.  I emphasise again the importance of the general movement ban – our compliance with it is the reason we have been able to press for speedy relaxation of restrictions and will hopefully lead to a good hearing in Brussels in Thursday.”

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NFU Scotland