The National Beef Association has called for the beef export ban on Scottish livestock following the foot and mouth outbreak to be lifted “as soon as possible” in a bid to maintain the country’s overseas market.

Kim Marie Haywood, NBA chief executive, said the export ban would cost the UK’s beef industry between £10m and £15m each month and that losses to the export market were “a huge worry”.

‘Regionalised ban’

“The longer the crisis goes on, the more the costs to the industry will rise,” she said. “The export market has really only just been re-established, so to lose it again would be terrible.”

Ms Haywood said the NBA was set to meet the European Commission today (Wednesday) to call for a “regionalised” export ban to allow Scotland to begin shipping meat again.

‘Maintain markets’

“Because we worked to implement a rapid surveillance strategy and because this is a local outbreak, we are very keen to support a regionalisation strategy,” she said.

“That way both Scotland and Northern Ireland will be able to maintain their export and domestic markets.”

Imports

While supermarkets have pledged their support to British farming, Ms Haywood said they only have between 12 and 20 days supply of beef and that it was imperative to get the supply chain moving again.

“Imports are likely to grow substantially as retailers need to ensure they don’t have empty shelves.

‘Crippling’

“But if we can get the supply chain up and running as quickly as possible that would be a big help.”

NFU Scotland said farmers were already suffering from “crippling” restrictions.

Rising bills

The EU export ban meant livestock farmers had no outlet to market, no income and rising bills for feed, NFUS said.

Jim McLaren, NFUS president, said moves needed to be made as soon as possible to consider lifting the ban on meat exports to Europe.

Follow the latest foot and mouth developments with FWi’s special report