FARMERS and auctioneers fear that the livestock movement ban imposed after the discovery of FMD in Surrey may affect the start of the store and breeding sales.
Hexham Auction Mart has already cancelled next Friday’s store sale, which had attracted an entry of over 1,000 cattle.
And there are concerns that the ban may not be lifted in time for the start of the breeding sales at the end of the month, which will seriously affect farmers’ cash flows.
Hexham auctioneer Robert Whitelock said: “The sheep breeding sales start in about three weeks time and continue right through until the end of October.
“However there are fears that these sales may be affected by the livestock movement ban, which will have a serious effect on farmers’ cash flow.”
For many hill farmers the breeding and store sales represent their “livestock harvest” and if they have no outlet to sell their stock then they may face cash flow shortages. On top of that, if they are forced to keep stock on their farms for longer than usual then the animals may start eating into the farmers’ winter fodder supplies, costing them even more.
And in some cases, the farmers may not have an excess of fodder, as the recent wet weather has hampered the making of silage and hay.
The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has implemented its emergency procedures to ensure that all requests for help from farming families facing financial hardship as a result of the current foot-and-mouth movement restrictions will be processed without delay.
Following the announcement of the FMD outbreak in Surrey on Friday evening the RABI emergency team met yesterday to ensure that measures were in place to provide immediate relief to those in need.
“We know from bitter experience how devastating the movement restrictions can be to livestock farmers for whom cash flow is critical,” said RABI chief executive Paul Burrows.
“We are already providing support for those hit by the recent floods and we are especially concerned about the effect that the movement restrictions will have on those families in the flooded areas. We expect that the long-term effects, coupled with increased feed prices, will result in a considerable increase in the number of people suffering hardship.”
RABI provides emergency funding to cover domestic expenses for farming families and considers all reasonable requests for financial assistance.
“During the 2001 FMD epidemic we helped more than 8,000 farming families, paying out some £9m. In extreme cases we were able to turn round applications for help within 24 hours and if necessary we will be in a position to match that response,” said Mr Burrows. The RABI emergency helpline number – 01865 727888 – is currently manned during office hours (with a message facility out of hours).