17 July 1998

Export check move

NEW veterinary inspection procedures for live export consignments have been announced that will shift the balance of power from exporters to government.

Junior farm minister Elliot Morley announced this week that the proposed changes, out for industry consultation, aimed to ensure that animals were fit enough to travel.

At the moment, exporters appoint and pay for their own veterinary inspectors. Under Mr Morleys plan, MAFF will establish a new panel of vets and will nominate an inspector for each export load.

Exporters will pay MAFF in advance, with the ministry then paying the vets.

Minimum times for the inspections will be specified, although Mr Morley has not said what he believes is necessary.

Clarification would also be provided on the methods for checking the identity of the animals being certified.

National Sheep Association chief executive John Thorley expressed concern about the minimum inspection times that would merely increase costs to the industry, again reducing its ability to trade fairly with the rest of Europe.