19 April 1996

Fischler admission has NFU in a fury

EU FARM commissioner Franz Fischlers announcement that British beef is safe, and that the export ban was imposed to protect the European beef market rather than human health, has infuriated farming leaders.

NFU president Sir David Naish said that the remarks, made at the weekend, seemed to contradict the EU Commissions claim that the ban was imposed to protect public health.

"The Commissioner has said that he believes British beef is safe and I will now be pressing him to persuade his colleagues to lift the ban as there is no justification for it at all," Sir David said.

And he announced that the NFU would take legal action against the EU Commission if it failed to lift the ban by the end of this month.

The NFU will await the outcome of the next meeting of EU farm ministers on Apr 29. If the ban is not lifted then, the NFU will launch an immediate legal challenge in the European Court.

But the Farmers Union of Wales said that while legal action might be a good idea in principle, it would take too long to produce a result.

The industry needed an early resolution to the beef crisis and Mr Fischlers comments underlined that the ban was unreasonable, unjust, and should be lifted immediately.

A Meat and Livestock Commission official agreed. "Obviously Mr Fischler has finally taken some note of the scientific evidence. If he now agrees that British beef is safe then the ban should be lifted immediately," he said.

Shelly Wright