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Plea for cut in farm lock-up; Farm and Country.

Byline: Andrew Forgrave Rural Affairs Editor

FARM stand-still measures are likely to remain in place until next year, the National Beef Association has admitted.

But it wants to see the current 20-day farm lock-up cut to just six days in August when rural ministry Defra carries out its promised mid-term revision of the interim programme.

The NBA believes Defra is unwilling to consider radical revisions until the Royal Society and Lessons Learned Inquiries have presented their reports later in the summer.

"This means the standstill principle may actually continue until permanent FMD controls are agreed by government and industry towards the end of the year, " said NBA chief executive, Robert Forster.

It has told Food and Farming Minister, Lord Whitty, that the operation of the three-week farm lock-up is neither credible, manageable or effective.

Among the measures the NBA has said should replace whole-farm standstills in a permanent antiFMD control package are a watertight cleansing and disinfection certification system for all livestock vehicles, a batch movement recording system for sheep and a three-week non-return requirement for all stock sold through auction.

Mr Forster said: "The first steps to the adoption of all three of these may be contained in the control changes expected to be introduced in mid-May and we expect industry reaction to these will be very closely examined by the Government."

"Our hope is that the effectiveness of these alternatives will give it the confidence to agree to the reduction of the farm standstill from 20 days to six days when negotiations for late summer revisions begin towards the end of next month."

Last week Defra agreed to relax restrictions on the movement and sale of sheep, to take effect from May 15. Under a modified interim animal movement regime, sheep and goats will be allowed at agricultural shows and, for the first time since last year's foot-and-mouth epidemic, farmers will be allowed to buy and sell sheep via livestock auctions. It means sheep can be bought at open auction by farmers for re-stocking or improving breeding stock - not just for slaughter.

"This is a welcome step in the right direction, although the union is still bitterly disappointed that the 20-day standstill rule will remain in force until at least August, " said Alan Gardner, chairman of the Farmer's Union of Wales national Livestock, Wool and Marts Committee.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2002
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