29 September 2000

British beef-on-the-bone exports are step closer

By Shelley Wright

A RESUMPTION in exports of British beef-on-the-bone has moved a step closer, following a recommendation from EU scientific advisers that bone-in veal exports should be allowed.

Under the date-based export scheme (DBES) all beef exported from Britain must be from animals between six and 30 months old and it must be de-boned.

However, the EU Commissions scientific steering committee recommended last week that approval should be given for the bone ban to be lifted for veal.

Farmers leaders were quick to applaud the move, which they hope will lead swiftly to similar approval for older cattle.

"The announcement is encouraging and paves the way for a resumption of beef-on-the-bone exports," said Les Armstrong, chairman of the NFUs livestock committee.

David Mitchell, chairman of the Scottish NFU livestock committee agreed. "The scientific steering committees findings are an important psychological boost for the UK beef industry and are a step in the right direction towards the eventual resumption of normal trading," he said.

"The resumption of bone-in beef exports from adult cattle is the real prize for us in Scotland as, prior to 1996, the majority of our beef exports were bone-in. We want to recapture those export markets as soon as possible," said Mr Mitchell.

If the commission adopts the advice of the scientific steering committee, the relaxation of the rules applying to veal will be a boost to an initiative launched earlier this year where welfare-friendly veal is reared and killed in Britain and the meat exported to the Continent.

The scheme, involving a number of British livestock farmers, Kent-based firm Anglo Dutch Meats and the French company Serval SA, was launched in April with a view to restoring a market for British dairy bull calves.

British calves are reared on French milk powder to UK welfare standards, finished in straw yards, and then slaughtered. Under the current DBES rules, bones must then be removed and the meat vacuum packed before it can be exported.

Mr Armstrong said veal exports from the UK before the beef ban was introduced in 1996 were negligible. &#42