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BBC Wales's Melanie Doel reports from Llandovery
"This idea will give some confidence to farmers after recent months"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 13 June, 2001, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Minister warns on video auctions
Cameraman capturing Charolais cows on film
Auctioneers filmed 500 cattle, cows, calves, and bulls
Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones has called on auctioneers not to go ahead with a second video livestock auction.

Mr Jones said Tuesday night's sale, in which farmers watched specially-filmed footage of animals, was premature and could have lead to the further spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

I would question why a few in the farming community are prepared to gamble with the future survival of the livestock industry in Wales

Carwyn Jones, Welsh Rural Affaits Minister

But the "virtual market" for dozens of farmers affected by the disease in Wales proved a hit and organisers plan another event in three weeks.

Mr Jones said they were gambling with the future survival of Wales' livestock industry.

He said: "I understand the frustration within the farming community about the difficulties arising from the movement restrictions on livestock.

"However, I believe this auction to be premature and it must present a danger to disease control.

"It will lead to a significant increase in livestock movements and will also inevitably encourage some farmers to visit farms before reaching a final decision on whether to buy."

Virtual auction

Farmers wanting to replace slaughtered livestock were invited to Llandovery rugby club on Tuesday night to buy animals after watching the video.

Mr Jones said the method points the way forward for farming, but warned that the venture ignored the strict guidelines on preventing the spread of the disease.

And he said a recent spate of cases in Yorkshire showed that farmers had to remain vigilant.

But the organisers of the event said it was a positive move towards rebuilding the shattered confidence of farmers, who had been unable to buy and sell animals in the normal way.

Crisis in Wales
Total confirmed cases UK-wide 1,732 - with 92 in Wales
Powys - 56 cases
Anglesey - 13 cases
Monmouthshire - 16 cases
Caerphilly 2
Rhondda Cynon Taff - 1
Neath Port Talbot -1
Newport - 3
Auctioneers Clee, Tompkinson and Francis spent weeks videoing cattle at 46 farms to compile an on-screen catalogue for sale at the auction.

Livestock markets were last held in the area more than three months ago and there has been little sign of them being reinstated.

Clee, Tompkinson and Francis came up with the idea of creating a video catalogue of more than 500 cattle, cows, calves and bulls.

There are hopes that the auction's success could lead to the venture spreading to other areas of Wales.

Cattle in field
Farmers have been subject to strict regulations
Farmer David Hormann said he was delighted by the scheme, after managing to sell a number of cattle.

"It has been really pleasing to see a bit of true auctioneering going on and to see these cattle being shifted," he said.

"We have managed to adapt to foot-and-mouth but we still have a long way to go.

He added: "This is something we have waited for for a long time and it has given us the opportunity to see friends after months."

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