Movement restrictions eased
DEFRA'S decision to lift some - but not all - restrictions on livestock movements because of the Surrey foot and mouth cases must be followed by more swift action in what has become a "genuine catastrophe" for Northern farmers, says the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
Although allowing farmers to take livestock to slaughter is welcome, it is still illegal to take animals to market - which means that hill farmers in particular must keep cattle and sheep on land where most of the grazing has been eaten, potentially causing huge feed bills.
Douglas Chalmers Director CLA North said; "We must not forget that livestock farmers are facing two concurrent crises. Foot and mouth only came when they were already suffering rising costs and low returns. The additional restrictions the disease has brought have now slammed shut many of the doors that had just opened to offer financial respite.
"Containing and eradicating the outbreak is the priority, to protect livestock elsewhere in the country, but the businesses that keep those livestock need constructive support as well.
"Make no mistake; this is not a case of whingeing farmers. This is a genuine catastrophe for the industry, and in many areas of the country the fallout for other businesses and rural communities would be equally terrible".