Trade Talk by Alastair Sneddon

8th November 2016

With so many store and breeding sales happening at this time of year we see our regular weekly markets affected by vendors unable to sell stock because of the 6 – day rule. Many of course can circumvent the problems with the use of separate holdings, be they their own, a relative or a helpful neighbour. This does, however, create unnecessary movements of stock so that something approaching normality can be maintained during the busy autumn season.

There have been several attempts in recent years to review and improve on this situation starting with Bill Madders and Richard MacDonald and more recently there were proposals involving isolation units which free, what I recall, required fortifications along the lines of Stalag Luft 3 to house stock after purchase for the requisite period. 

To the best of my knowledge the 6 - day rule remains firmly in place for the time being. 

I had to go to London recently for a meeting at Defra’s offices and had the misfortune to travel the last 30 miles or so by train during rush hour. 

On my return journey, after a meeting concerning Bovine TB and Biosecurity, I decided to compare and contrast the human and livestock worlds when it comes to such matters. 

Thankfully it would be illegal to transport livestock under the cramped and unsanitary conditions to be found on our trains. I then considered my fellow travellers and began to wonder if anyone knew where they had come from, what diseases they might have been exposed to and where they were going. 

I required just a train ticket to make the journey which contained no personal details, no identity check and there was no record of my journey unless you count CCTV, compare that with the UK livestock situation. In order for a sheep to cross the road from one holding to another, paperwork in quadruplicate needs to be completed, the electronic eartag read and the National database updated. 

So what is the conclusion to these ruminations. Two main points emerge.
Firstly, as humans in Britain we are fortunate to have the freedom to travel without oppressive paperwork and regulation and secondly, we should be proud that the traceability of British livestock is rigorous and robust and should give consumers every confidence when they buy British meat.

My more personal observation, having travelled from Derbyshire to London and anxious to return home, at least (unless there is a train strike), I am not stuck there for 6 days.