10 May 1996

Labours ploy to end veal calf exports is foiled in Commons

By Tony McDougal

ATTEMPTS by Labour to use the BSE crisis as an opportunity to end veal calf exports until EU member states introduce much higher welfare standards were rejected in a Commons debate on Wednesday.

Shadow junior farm spokesman Elliot Morley (Lab, Glanford and Scunthorpe) said the current world ban on the export of dairy calves presented the government with a chance to develop more welfare friendly options for farmers, such as the pink veal pilot scheme at ADAS Rosemaund.

"The government is currently using EU funds to give a subsidy to slaughter dairy bull calves in the UK. These calves can be used to process rose veal in group housing and lightweight beef.

"There are some pilot schemes in operation and rather than funding the immediate slaughter of these animals to go for dog meat, this could be an opportunity for boosting rural employment opportunities and higher welfare standards and exploit export opportunities once the ban on British beef exports is lifted."

Eric Martlew (Lab, Carlisle) backed moves by the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming, who have taken a court case to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, saying the government has a legal right to bar calf exports for veal production until welfare standards are raised to UK levels in other EU member states.

Junior farm minister Angela Browning rejected calls to stop calf exports, but stressed MAFFs determination to outlaw veal crates in the EU.

Prior to the export ban on dairy calves, the UK exported 400,000 calves a year to Europe. Mrs Browning said many farmers had taken the decision to rear calves to 14 months in order to receive the first beef special premium, rather than take part in the calf slaughter scheme.

Only 800 calves have so far been slaughtered through the scheme. &#42