28 May 1999

Exports red-tape threat

By Robert Davies

IF proposed new pre-export inspections and advanced paperwork deadlines are implemented, live sheep exports will stop.

Mike Gooding, a spokesman for Farmers Ferry, warned the Farmers Union of Waless annual meeting that the chance to trade with 300m people just 22 miles away across the Channel could be lost.

In its first full year the ferry carried 900,000 sheep, representing an income of £27m to UK producers, despite being opposed by vocal, largely misinformed, people on the grounds of animal welfare, he said. At times, MAFF also appeared to have mixed priorities.

"There are those within the ministry who would like the trade stopped," Mr Gooding claimed. "There are those within Westminster and Whitehall who believe there is no future for much of the livestock sector. We have to be careful, for just as it is refreshing to have a minister who seems to apply common sense, there are some in the ministry who seem determined to use their position of power to let their personal prejudice against meat eating rule."

Farmers must work together to ensure that the principles of a minority did not destroy the industry, he said. Farmers Ferry faced the challenge of proving that it should not be tarred with the same brush as some of the operations that had historically transported stock across the Channel. More than 6000 farmers had given financial support to the initiative, but only 9% of the 27,000 farmers in Wales had. Mr Gooding urged more to donate rather than ride on the backs of others.

Farmers Ferry directors were given a prolonged standing ovation when they were presented with the FUWs two annual awards for outstanding services to agriculture. &#42