EU agrees date for end to offspring cull
A MAJOR hurdle has been overcome in delivering an effective date-based scheme for the resumption of British beef exports later this year. EU authorities have accepted that the date on which the scheme is finally agreed will act as a cut-off point in the cull of offspring of BSE affected cattle.
All such offspring born between 1 August, 1996 and the date of agreement must be identified, placed under movement restrictions and eventually slaughtered. The cull will then be considered complete as far as a resumption of beef exports is concerned, although calves whose dams subsequently develop BSE will continue to be culled.
The original wording in the EU commissions proposal suggested that no exports would be allowed as long as there were any BSE cases in Britain.
“The wording has been sorted out and we welcome the Government announcement of a voluntary cull of offspring of cattle affected with BSE. This moves forward the date-based export scheme and we would encourage all farmers to co-operate with the cull,” said Scottish NFU vice president Jim Walker.
Letters will go out in the next two weeks from Government animal health offices to farmers known to have offspring of BSE cases. Producers will be invited to have the animals culled with full market value compensation. Government will pay the slaughter costs. Although initially voluntary, the cull will become compulsory on the day agreement is reached on the date-based scheme.
“It is clearly in our interest to have as many animals as possible culled before that date so that exports can resume as quickly as possible,” Mr Walker said. “We must have a workable scheme, unlike the certified herds one for Northern Ireland which is completely bogged down by regulation.”