11 January 2000
Dutch spend 3m on Welsh beef

By FWi staff

WELSH farmers have struck a 3 million deal to supply beef to catering outlets in Holland in one of the biggest export deals since the beef ban was lifted last summer.

The deal was made after two years of talks with VEN International, which supplies top hotels and restaurants.

Welsh Assembly agriculture minister Christine Gwyther is set to formally announce the deal today (11 January) at a catering and restaurant show in Amsterdam.

Under the agreement, 300t of beef will be shipped annually to Holland.

BBC Online reports that Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a message of support to the farmers.

He said: “The measures we have taken to eradicate BSE and to ensure that our beef is as safe as any in Europe are now paying off.

“This decision underlines the fact that our beef is recognised as a high-quality product and is in demand by the rest of Europe.”

The move will be a boost for Mr Blair, who is faced with the prospect of protracted legal action in Europe to force France to lift its ban on British beef.

It will also bring some respite to Ms Gwyther who, as a vegetarian, was a controversial appointment as farming minister.

In October, she faced a vote of censure for failing to deliver on a unilateral Welsh calf processing scheme.

The contract is also a major boost for beef producers in Wales.

It is the first commercial and sustainable export deal for Welsh beef since the lifting of the EUs BSE export ban on the British product last August.

In addition to France, Germany is also refusing British beef imports. Both countries cite continuing health concerns.