5 April 1996

EU takes firm stance on veal calves

EUROPEAN countries are set to either slaughter or continue to ban the sale of British calves reared for the veal industry.

The Netherlands, which has never recorded a case of BSE, has taken the toughest stance, with farm minister Jozias van Aartsen saying the 64,000 British calves currently in Holland would be slaughtered this week.

While Dutch scientists admitted there was probably nothing wrong with the calves, the lack of demand for British products from the traditional veal eating nations of Italy, Spain and France meant slaughter was inevitable.

French farm minister Philippe Vasseur ordered a ban on the sale of meat from 276,000 calves imported from the UK. Beef consumption dropped by more than 40% last week, and the slaughter of an entire dairy herd took place on Monday due to BSE.

In Germany concern has been raised over the flood of meat coming in from Switzerland, which has recorded more than 200 cases of BSE – the highest number in continental Europe.

With beef sales down by about 30% across the country one German state – Rhineland Palatinate – is calling for Britain to pay compensation to beef producers to make up for lost income.

Closer to home, the border with Northern Ireland was tightened after Ulster farmers tried to illegally move cattle across the border to sell in the Republic. At least 70 smuggled cattle were seized in separate raids in Donegal and Laios by Gardai officers, and were due to be slaughtered.

Eires prime minister John Bruton held talks with Egyptian President Hosnea Mubarak over a blockade outside the port of Alexandria, which left Irish cattle stranded off the coast for several days. &#42

Farmers at Welshpool heard appeals for the industry to fight together.