22 December 2000

Fishmeal ban exemption is likely – Scots

SCOTLANDS farming leaders are confident that the UK will win an exemption from the EU-wide ban on feeding fishmeal to ruminants, due to take effect from Jan 1.

Jim Walker, Scottish NFU president, says that neither the Scottish Executive nor MAFF seems willing to launch a feed recall scheme to remove any rations from farms and mills that contain fishmeal.

And his advice to farmers who are wondering whether or not to feed existing rations that include fishmeal after the Jan 1 deadline is to go ahead.

"The news at the moment seems quite encouraging. We believe the UK government will win a derogation from this EU ruling that will allow us to continue to feed fishmeal to ruminants," he says.

The ban on fishmeal is part of the emergency EU-wide controls that have been implemented as a result of recent BSE scares in France and Germany.

Ban rationale

According to Mr Walker, the rationale behind banning fishmeal is over concerns that it could be contaminated with meat and bonemeal destined for non-ruminants at continental feed mills. The UK, however, has no such problems, having banned MBM from all livestock diets in 1996.

A letter from the Scottish Executive to all livestock farmers this week outlines the decisions that were taken by EU ministers at their council meeting on Dec 4.

But it seems to put all responsibility for deciding whether or not to heed the fishmeal ban from Jan 1 at the door of producers.

"The executive is considering urgently the measures necessary to implement this decision," says the letter.

Germany is particularly keen to see a total EU ban on feeding any animal or fish protein to ruminants. In November, it introduced domestic legislation that banned both MBM and fishmeal.

A Scottish Executive official told farmers weekly this week that no legislation had been introduced in Scotland to impose a ban from Jan 1. The reason, he said, was lack of time in the run-up to Christmas.

However, despite Mr Walkers confidence, the official said a feed recall scheme was still being considered.