Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lose the paperwork

Defra's infamous table valuations alledgedly constructed to "deliver value to the taxpayer" - if not to the livestock farmer on the receiving end - have had a bizarre effect on the pedigree dairy sector during the last few weeks for cattle slaughtered as bTb reactors. If you remember these were part of a package, agreed by the industry and offered to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as a package in late 2005. The ministers very cleverly grabbed the goody bag of cattle measures - as expected - but offered merely a 'consultation' instead of the targeted measures against a wildlife reservoir, whose name they dare not speak.

Their 'valuation' figures are a mish mash of auction ring sales of various categories of stock over previous weeks, but therein lies the problem.

Prices for livestock dipped sharply in the latter part of the summer, due to restrictions of the bluetongue zones. But in the late summer, a shortage of decent quality dairy cattle, pushed up prices. Considerably. And Defra's tables are not constructed on a like for like basis - nothing so simple. Non-pedigree animals have a one month bracket of calculation, while pedigree values are tabulated from prices over the previous six months.
5 . The values in the table of categories above have been derived from sales information obtained from store markets, prime markets, rearing calf sales, breeding sales and dispersal sales in Great Britain between 18 December 2007 and 20 January 2008 for non-pedigree animals, and between 21 July 2007 and 20 January 2008 for pedigree animals.

The system is clanking through with only calved dairy animals showing this disparity of £70 / head for February 'valuations'- but prices in January were more pronounced at over £200 differential.

Defra insist that to be classed as 'pedigree', an animal has to have all its paperwork which show its parentage and ownership details. But this tilt in values has meant much of this may should have been 'lost' over the past weeks.

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