Cattle market boost for farming industry

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Britain's farming industry has taken a step towards recovering from foot-and-mouth as the first live cattle auction for six months got under way.

The sale at Kirkwall was hailed as a vital move for the islands' economy, which is heavily dependent on agriculture.

Cattle traders said prices were in line with six months ago.

This is in spite of fears that foot-and-mouth would have devastating long-term consequences for the market.

The first cattle to be sold, a group of four Charolais steers from the outlying island of Westray, were ushered into the ring and snapped up in seconds by a buyer for Kepac, a meat supplier based in Aberdeenshire, for £614.

The sale was held under strict disease prevention measures in what was designed as a trial run for future sales in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, which have so far escaped the disease.

In total about 430 head of cattle, all from Orkney farms, were due to be sold at Orkney Auction Mart.

Jim Walker, president of the National Farmers' Union Scotland, opened the sale with a speech calling for farmers to stick with biosecurity measures until the disease was eradicated.

Mr Walker also had a strong message for government ministers, calling on them to stand up for Scotland's farmers.



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