One of the main auction marts in North Yorkshire opened its doors yesterday a year after it was closed down because of foot-and-mouth.

Northallerton market's first sale was low-key with 34 animals sold - well below the normal run of about 300 beasts a week - and only a few buyers.

About 30 farmers supported the sale and many were pleased to see the sales back on, but were concerned at new restrictions on livestock movements imposed by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Government has introduced a 20-day rule, meaning a farmer who takes any stock on to his farm cannot re-sell animals at auction for 20 days.

Northallerton auctioneer and chairman of North Yorkshire marts Derek Tyson said: "It is going to be a serious handicap to farmers, particularly in feeding areas such as North Yorkshire, which are buying and selling stock all the time.

"It is going to curtail their ability to go to an auction mart rather than a deadweight sale."

Mr Tyson said business would only really start to get back on track if the movement restrictions were rethought. "If the regulations are amended then yes, our future is secure. If not then it will be more questionable," he said.