ANM Group chief executive Brian Pack has welcomed progress in controlling the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in England, but has warned that informed and balanced decisions will be needed in the coming days and weeks.
Due to the livestock movement ban introduced on 3 August, no livestock auctions have been held by Aberdeen & Northern Marts at Thainstone Centre, Inverurie or Caithness Livestock Centre. The situation remains under constant review and changes will be publicised at the earliest available opportunity.
Last week did, however, see the resumption of some operations at Scotch Premier Meat Ltd in Inverurie and Highland Lamb in Dornoch due to the decision to allow animals to move directly to abattoirs under license.
Pack said: "We have now passed one cycle of the incubation period for the disease since the movement ban was put in place and, as of today, there are still only two infected farms. These are in close proximity to each other and the Pirbright laboratory which has been implicated as a potential source of the problem.
"There has been some relaxation in movements for various very specific situations but, as we move towards two cycles passed, we need to expect much greater relaxation in movement because stock and many farm and related businesses are suffering badly from the current restrictions.
Pack also highlighted the seasonal necessity of stock starting to move, adding: "We are just entering the period of peak livestock movements as stock moves to lower ground and to the south and east of the country for breeding and finishing.
"For all concerned, we must hope that the disease is once again extinct in the UK and these vital movements take place with minimum delay. It is vital that those in charge take informed decisions balancing all the facts.
"It is a very stressful time for all involved in the livestock industry as everyone hopes that we have seen the last outbreak, but also the major concerns about the export market for cattle, sheep and pigs."
He continued: "Exports are vital to the market price of these species and, at the moment, they are banned until at least mid-November. However, Scotland and the UK are pushing the case for regionalisation to the EU veterinary committee. It is hoped that at their meeting on August 23 they will agree to the resumption of exports from the majority of Great Britain (Northern Ireland already has this status) - if not, prospects for the autumn trade are bleak, particularly for lamb."