4 October 1999
Farmers pledge action over beef ban

By FWi staff

ANGRY farmers have threatened to blockade the port of Plymouth against French imports unless France lifts its ban on British beef by the end of this week.

Livestock producers are furious that France is still refusing to accept shipments of British beef despite the lifting of the worldåwide export ban two months ago.

Farmers in south-west England are so incensed that they have pledged to fight back, said Richard Haddock, chairman of the National Farmers Union in Devon.

“Were fed up of being trodden on and walked over,” he told the Farming Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

Mr Haddock said farmers were asking all supermarkets in the UK to empty their shelves of French products by Friday of this week.

“Then, if the French still have not lifted the ban we will start blockading Plymouth port [and] the French ferry,” he said.

“We will be banning any French cargo coming in.”

Speaking on the same programme, Robert Forster, of the National Beef Association, accused the French of unfairly protecting their own market.

“Beef has dissolved into a political football in which it has the health status of radioactive toxic waste,” he said.

“It is nothing more than naked market protection.”

Mr Forster said that the continuing beef on the bone ban in the UK was giving countries who wanted to reject our British beef something to hide behind.

According to the Meat and Livestock Commission, British beef exports to France were worth £250 million a year before the BSE crisis.

In additional, a further £100m of beef was transported through France each year to markets in Italy and Spain.

But those markets are blocked because of the French ban, said the MLC.