Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Maff Don't Know What They're Doing'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Maff Don't Know What They're Doing'

Article excerpt

Although his animals remain free of foot-and-mouth, Essex farmer Gerald Ketley (right) tells Keith Poole how the restriction on movement of stock has so far cost him [pound]60,000

SATURDAY MARCH 24

8am Gerald is determined to sort out a long-running battle with officials from Maff.

For nearly two weeks his sheep and cattle have been under a Section D notice, banning him from applying for a movement licence, cutting off his freedom to sell and make what meagre money he can.

"They've admitted to me they cannot give a proper reason," says Gerald.

"They don't know what they're doing and it's costing me money. I rang them up earlier in the week and told me I wasn't even on their system, they said may be my farm is too small but I've got 600 cattle and 2,300 sheep. It beggars belief." He makes an appointment for two officials to visit on Sunday.

12.45pm Gerald calls his local auctioneer to discuss the suffocating movement ban. In the last month Gerald has managed to sell eight cattle for just more than [pound]4,000, and at the end of last month he managed to sell four heifers and 16 sheep. At this time of year he would be looking to sell at least 20 a week, injecting [pound]10,000 into his cash flow, so this month he has lost [pound]36,000 in revenue from his herd of Limousins.

4.50pm Gerald is running out of feed.

The feed bill for his cattle is fast approaching [pound]8,000 for this month.

Normally it would be [pound]4,000. In the same way he is paying [pound]2,500 for sheep feed. Usually he would pay a little over [pound]1,000 at this time of year.

Worryingly, feed is becoming harder to buy as stocks run out and prices have increased by up to 20 per cent since the start of the crisis. Gerald says: "My overdraft has increased by [pound]20,000 since the beginning of the foot-and-mouth outbreak. …

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