Although the foot and mouth outbreak is happening hundreds of miles away it is still hitting Yorkshire businesses hard, says the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

The economic implications of the nationwide animal movement ban following the outbreaks on farms in Surrey have already started to ripple out across the wider rural economy, says the
CLA’s Yorkshire regional director, Dorothy Fairburn.

This is the time of year when many hill farmers make the bulk of their money, selling stock on to other farmers for either breeding or fattening. Autumn sales have had to be cancelled and now the animals are trapped on upland farms as the autumn weather begins to bite.

“We are now aware of very concerning evidence that with many farmers being prevented from earning a large part of their annual income, businesses who depend on farming also face an uncertain future. Some consequential effects were immediately obvious, such as on livestock hauliers, but as we talk to worried farmers it is becoming obvious that a siege mentality is being adopted. The recent relaxation allowing sale to slaughter is of no benefit to those producing store, replacement or breeding stock. The onset of true autumn weather means extra feed to be bought, and with no indication of when animals can be sold, or if they will have any value at that time, chequebooks are being put away for all but essential purchases.

“While we have no idea how and when we can start trading again, farmers are prudently cutting back on many products and services. Merchants, contractors, hauliers, engineers and everyone else who supports and are supported by farmers are entering an open-ended crisis. Businesses and jobs – often the only ones available in some rural areas – are now at risk. I would therefore ask Defra to let us have information such as when can we open up marts, when can we begin to prepare for exports, as soon as they believe it is prudent to do so.”

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