THE SCOTTISH FARMER, JUNE 9,2001

Agencies scrap overexport bulls

By DOUGLAS MacSKIMMING

AN ATTEMPT by an Ayrshire farmer to exportthree bulls across the Border into England has highlighted a scrap between SERAD and MAFF.

After a further relaxation of foot-and-mouth movements announced last week by rural affairs minister, Ross Finnie, John Smillie, of Smithston, Patna, was confident that his local department office in Ayr would sanction his licence application, Only to be told it couldnt be considered because procedural details were not yet in place.

Mr. Smillie said he had been trying to sell three Limousin bulls to a farmer In Northumberland for almost three months and following SERADs announcement, he believed the deal could now he completed under the new emergency instruction rule 2000l/22/AWVT which covered hulls for hire or sale. But it wasnt to be.

Said Mr Smillie: I went to SERADs Ayr office, applied for a licence and even talked over a suggested route.

When they heard I was crossing into England, I was told there was a complete embargo on any such movement, but they could not explain why.

But when The Scottish Farmer contacted SERAD we were told: There is no embargo on crossing from Scotland into England. There is a tight licensing regime in moving stock from the likes of an at risk area such as Ayrshire into an infected area like Northumberland. But there should be no reason why any farmer cant apply for a licence to move stock.

Buoyed by this news, Mr Smillie again went to the Ayr office only to face another stalemate.

I was categorically told that, until they had received written or verbal authority from SERAD in Edinburgh, they could not process my licence application.

The Scottish Farmer again confronted SERAD on Tuesday, to be told this time that there had been a breakdown in communication between Edinburgh and Ayr.

A SERAD spokesman said: All our area offices will be getting written communications detailing the process of the new licensing scheme. We dont want to inconvenience any farmer and the farmer in question should be able to apply for his licence to take his bulls into England by the end of the week.

As The Scottish Farmer went to press, Mr Smillie was contacted again by the Ayr office to be told: Sorry, we have just been told by Edinburgh to hold any applications. MAFF is not prepared to open up the border for at least another two weeks.

Said Mr. Smillie: It looks like we have a north-south divide.

A MAFF spokeswoman said: It appears there is a misunderstanding whether the Border is open or not. However, we are not aware that animal movements across the Border are prohibited.

A farmer wanting to move stock from a clean area into an infected area can do so provided they have the correct movement licence in place.

The bulls are earmarked for a 400-cow unit in Northumberland which, despite the problems in the area, has remained clear of the disease, said Mr Smillie.

The unit is already using five Smithston bulls and the farmer is as anxious as I am to get them there and working.