By RYAN TAYLOR
AN AGREEMENT has been reached over livestock movements which should prevent the repeat of a fall out between NorthLink and the marts.
Farmers and crofters from the North Isles trying to ship animals south after recent farm to farm sales feared the beasts could be turned away at the pier because the documentation outlining their final destination could not be prepared in time.
Stringent traceability laws introduced following the BSE crisis mean all animals must carry sufficient documentation before moving from place to place.
Common practice in Yell and Unst, a farm to farm sale will see an auctioneer travel round a number of farms on a single day.
The animals are loaded onto a truck at each sale point, but by the time total numbers and prices are faxed down to the marts office in Lerwick for computer processing, NorthLink’s ferry is ready to sail.
NorthLink are required by law to refuse livestock without a certificate showing the beast’s final destination.
Chairman of Shetland Livestock Marketing Group Ronnie Eunson said that could make life difficult for farmers, because often not all of the details were available in time.
“When we have a farm to farm sale the sale is moving from place to place, and buyers are unable to make up lots as they go along.
“It’s only when the sale is finished that they can access what they’ve bought and place them for customers down on the mainland.”
But the SIC’s environmental health manager, Maggie Dunne, said an agreement had been ironed out between the council, NorthLink and pier operating staff at SBS, meaning the sales should continue without any further hiccups.
She said environmental services had provided the marts with an eight-point instruction plan detailing what documents should accompany the animals.
“What we’ve done is set out what the marts need to provide the pier with, and how they should provide that.
“We’ve tried to develop a procedure that everybody’s happy with to make sure there is full traceability of animals from the marts to the mainland.
“The Unst and Yell sales only happen once a year, so we will get it sorted out for next year.
“We’ve spoken to the marts about how we are going to make sure this isn’t an ongoing problem.
“The marts have always been providing the paperwork, but it hasn’t always been very clear and quite often it’s not been arriving on time.”