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Timetable needed for FMD recovery

[Friday 21 September 2007]
Foot and mouth sign
Farmers demand FMD

THE economic implications of the nationwide animal movement ban following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth have already started to ripple out across the wider rural economy, warned the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) today.

CLA Yorkshire regional director, Dorothy Fairburn said, "We are now aware of very concerning evidence that with many farmers being prevented from earning a large part of their annual income, businesses who depend on farming also face an uncertain future.

"Some consequential effects were immediately obvious, such as on livestock hauliers, but as we talk to worried farmers it is becoming obvious that a siege mentality is being adopted. The recent relaxation allowing sale to slaughter is of no benefit to those producing store, replacement or breeding stock. The onset of true Autumn weather means extra feed to be bought, and with no indication of when animals can be sold, or if they will have any value at that time, chequebooks are being put away for all but essential purchases.

"Merchants and suppliers have traditionally done what they can to support their customers in tight times. Many extended their credit terms when farmers were kept waiting for their Single Farm Payment last year, but it is even more serious this time. While we have no idea how and when we can start trading again, farmers are prudently cutting back on many products and services.

"Merchants, contractors, hauliers, engineers and everyone else who supports and are supported by farmers are entering an open-ended crisis. Businesses and jobs - often the only available in some rural areas - are now at risk.

"However this morning's news of general licences for farm to farm movements is a welcome move in the right direction, and possibly a hint that we may be able to start planning again, but businesses really need some light at the end of the tunnel. I would therefore ask Defra to let us have information such as when can we open up marts, when can we begin to prepare for exports, as soon as they believe it is prudent to do so.

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