AS QUARANTINE units (QUs) governing the movement of livestock come into force in Wales this month, there is a warning that the new rules and regulations will make it uneconomical for some farmers to participate in agricultural shows

QUs were launched on September 11 and are now being used to manage livestock movements, offering farmers an alternative to the six-day standstill rule introduced in the wake of the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

But farmers have been voicing their concerns over the new system at recent agricultural shows in Bedwellty and Llangynidr.

Farmers’ Union of Wales Gwent county executive officer Glyn Davies insisted that the cost of obtaining approval and maintaining quarantine units will prove prohibitive to many exhibitors.

“The Welsh Government have constantly stressed the vital role agriculture plays in the rural economy and community, yet are hell-bent on introducing QUs which will make it uneconomical for some farmers to participate in shows, particularly during the busy autumn sales period,’’ said Mr Davies.

QUs were initially set to be introduced in June, but following concern from Welsh farming unions that this would result in poor livestock turnout at small agricultural shows, the Welsh government postponed their introduction.

Welsh rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths said the delay enabled livestock keepers to attend agricultural shows this summer, as well as provide farmers with more time to put QUs in place on their holdings.

QUs aim to provide greater flexibility and prevent the spread of diseases and will replace free isolation units in use by keepers of cattle, sheep and goats.

A single QU field will cost £172.80 including VAT for 18 months, while two QU fields will cost £244.80.

There has been no change for pig farmers who can continue to use their approved isolation facilities to manage movements.

The Welsh Government said it had informed all livestock keepers in Wales of the upcoming change and provided farmers with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the operational rules and requirements.