Processors call for sharing of foot-and-mouth costs

The processing industry is calling on the entire meat supply chain to equally share the burden of costs caused by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The British Meat Processors Association said its members had incurred significant costs during the outbreak and said it was vital that the impact of the outbreak was not disproportionately felt by one sector alone.

Stuart Roberts, director of the BMPA, said processors had suffered not only from lost days of production during the movement ban, but also incurred additional costs due to reduced values of hides and other by-products and the closure of export markets.

Transport costs had also increased due to allowing movements direct to slaughter, with Roberts highlighting the fact one BMPA member had to use transport with a capacity of moving three and a half thousand sheep to source just eight hundred animals.

He said: "It is too early to calculate a total industry cost for this outbreak, but it is expected that the cost to a number of our members will be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds by the time the situation returns to normality.

"We are asking for an opportunity to review how the outbreak has affected all food chain businesses to ensure that one sector is not disproportionately affected."

Meanwhile he praised the work done to contain the outbreak: "It is very clear that the work carried out to date to control the spread of the disease has been effective and we need to praise all those who continue to work so hard to manage the disease situation.

"If we are to continue to make good progress in relation to controlling the disease and see meat exports resuming in the near future it is imperative that our priority remains to be vigilant and to continue high levels of biosecurity."