7 February 2000
Additive ban could cost industry 10m

By Alistair Driver

GOVERNMENT proposals to stop additives being fed to livestock unless they are incorporated in feed could cost the industry 10 million, it is claimed.

Michael Putnam, a leading nutrition consultant, has been hired by a group of feed supplement industry representatives to lead the fight against the plan.

The proposals could land the farming and feed sector with a bill which far outweighs MAFF predictions of 100,000 if the proposal goes ahead, he said.

The feed additive provision is included in December 1999s draft Feeding Stuff Regulations, which could come into force as early as May this year.

It has existed in an EU directive since the early 1970s but was ignored by the government until now because of animal welfare issues, claimed Mr Putnam.

“We think the proposal is unnecessary and should therefore be dropped.”

MAFF is under pressure from Brussels to implement the directive and has been threatened with court action unless it agrees to do so.

If the directive is implemented, feed companies want certain products exempted so that they can still be used without being incorporated in feed.

Other European countries which have drafted in regulations have set up their own local authorisation procedure to get around the problem, Mr Putnam said.

“In Ireland, products that might well be in a non-incorporation use list of feed additives can still be used as non-medicinal animal remedies,” he said.

Products that could be affected by the proposal include mineral blocks, slow-release boluses, and minerals dissolved in drinking water.

A ban on liquid supplements, top-dressed minerals and vitamins would effectively outlaw additives supplements on upland farms, said Mr Putnam.

“There are no alternatives as many farmers, particularly hill farmers, will not have the money or the time to feed concentrates to grazing ruminants.”

Pigs and poultry are likely to be badly affected, especially given the recent move away from antibiotic growth promoters, he added.

Companies producing supplements face an immediate loss in sales to British farmers of 1.5-2 million on top of lost export markets, said Mr Putnam.

The cost to farmers of reduced performance, reduced outputs and the death of livestock could result in a total bill of “at least 10m”, he said.

The farming and feed industries have until 10 February to reply to a Ministry of Agriculture consultation on the Feeding Stuffs Regulations 2000.

The National Farmers Union has been encouraging livestock farmers to make their feelings clear to MAFF about the directive.