By Debbie James

Livestock entries at a packed schedule of local agricultural shows in Pembrokeshire are likely to be down this summer following the introduction of new animal movement charges.

From June 10, farmers must pay £201.60 to register a quarantine unit if they intend to move cattle, sheep or goats on or off their holding more than once in a six-day period.

Since 2001, farmers could comply with the six-day standstill rule – designed to control the spread of disease – by establishing an isolation unit at no cost.

The Welsh Government is now replacing this system with quarantine units and charging farmers a £201.60 fee on a single unit, payable every 18 months.

There could be repercussions for local shows in Pembrokeshire because some fall in the same week.

Pembroke Town and Country Show, which this year celebrates the 200th anniversary of Pembroke Farmers Club, is due to take place on August 2, two days prior to Fishguard Show on August 4.

One of the organisers, George John, said agricultural shows were the lifeblood of rural communities and relied on livestock. “Without livestock there is no show, it’s what a lot of visitors come to the shows to see.’’

Phillip Williams, of Leweston, Camrose, who competes with the award-winning Willhome Ayrshires, said he is unlikely to need a quarantine unit because none of the shows he is scheduled to attend fall within six days of each other. But he anticipates that the new regulations will deter some exhibitors.

“It will put people off, those who only do a few local shows. People will be selective about which shows they go to,’’ he predicted.

“The Welsh government keeps changing the rules and moving the goal posts. I can’t understand how some of the smaller shows will be able to keep going.’’

The National Sheep Association (NSA) in Wales had appealed to the Welsh Government to delay the introduction of the new system until the autumn.

Its regional development officer, Helen Davies, said the show season could have been a good opportunity to explain the new rules and charges to farmers and to give people an opportunity to get used to this new way of working.

“The NSA is in total agreement with the need for strict biosecurity and quarantining animals but the Welsh Government has gone over the top with this,’’ she said.

It is not only the cost that is concerning the industry but the 61 rules associated with quarantine units, including a requirement for the online reporting of all livestock movements within 24 hours instead of the current three days.

A Welsh government spokesman pointed out that although quarantine units can be used to manage movements to and from shows, they are intended to be used for all types of animal movement.

He said the system had been developed in partnership with the farming industry and had been designed to simplify the standstill rules and provide flexibility whilst maintaining disease movement controls.