Bid launched to ease rules on moving cattle

FARMING Minister George Eustice has agreed to meet with Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron to discuss ending the six-day movement rule for livestock.

Raising the issue with a question in the House of Commons on Thursday, the MP urged the Government to adopt the recommendations made two years ago in the MacDonald report.

Last week Defra Secretary Owen Paterson announced an easing of livestock movement rules, but stopped short of an announcement on the future of the six-day rule.

Mr Farron said that farmers in Cumbria ‘have their hands tied’ by such restrictions.

Defra's six-day stand-still rule was put in place to reduce the risk of another outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which devastated agricultural life in the region in 2001 and also struck in 2007.

Many farmers believe these rules, which are still in place today, are now outdated.

The rule says 'movements must not take place from any premises where one or more animals have been moved in the six day period prior to the movement', except direct to slaughter.

The government commissioned the MacDonald review to look at this matter in 2011. The review recommended more than 200 ways of reducing unnecessary ‘red tape’.

Many farmers in the region believe now is the time to axe the rule to help their businesses and Mr Farron said he was asking ministers to look at alternatives that would deliver animal safety and help farmers.

In his reply to Mr Farron’s question, Mr Eustice said he would meet the MP to discuss his suggestion.

Mr Farron said: "Considering that we are not currently facing a foot-and-mouth crisis, the six day standstill rule serves absolutely no purpose apart from making life difficult for farmers.

“I hope that when we meet the Minister we can convince him to urgently look again at this matter.

“If we were to experience a new outbreak of the disease, then it would be essential to have the rule back in order to protect farmers and their animals. “However, there is no need to have this rule during peace-time.”

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