Foot & Mouth scares region - again

GALLOWAY'S farmers are facing a second Foot and Mouth Disease clampdown for the second time in as many months.

The nightmare scenario of a new FMD scare hit as Galloway markets were in full swing on Wednesday.

Wallet's Mart in Castle Douglas was halfway through selling 14,000 Scotch mule lambs when news rippled around the ring that FMD had been confirmed at a Surrey farm not far from last month's outbreak.

The sale continued after talks with government vets - but prices were hit when the slaes restarted.

Galloway farmers, marts and hauliers had been desperately trying to clear a backlog of livestock - now they are back at square one.

Selling sheep at Newton Stewart market was well known breeder Graham McClymont of the Cuil Farm, near Palnure.

He was shocked at the bleak news, adding he thought there would be "a riot" over the latest shutdown.

With farmers and hauliers given a 4pm deadline that day for all livestock movement, he said: "This couldn't have come at a worst time of year, there will be a hell of a backlog now."

Craig Wilson boss Jim Craig told The Galloway Gazette yesterday (Thursday) morning that he was as much in the dark as anyone about what would happen now.

"We have had no information as to when we will be back in business. This is a very crucial time of year for us, this is when we make our money.

"My fear is this will lead a drop in prices through panic selling, as farmers will now be desparate to get rid of their stock.

"There is no advantage here to anybody, and we wonder now if we will be shut down for one week or six weeks. I would say that if this goes on for longer that a fortnight it doesn't bode well for the whole system.

"As we have already done, we will play catch up and offer a full list of fixtures to clear the backlog, as the auction system is the best way of processing livestock.

"We just hope that the vendors can bear the brunt until such a time comes," said Mr Craig.

A local farmer, who did not want to be named, said that he should have been heading to a big Suffolk sale at Kelso yesterday.

But after spending months preparing the sheep to have them looking their best on the day of the sale, he is left sitting at home, with the sheep still in the field.

"They were looking a picture yesterday - just before I heard the latest news," he said. "This is what we work all year for - to get a good price at the sales. The only consolation is that everyone else is in the same situation.

"That place at Pirbright should be bulldozed into the ground."

With feed costing yearly 300 a ton just now, due to the poor harvest, farmers face the bleak prospect of heading into the winter with animals depreciating in value by that day, yet still needing money spent on them with little hope of getting any return.