6 June 1997

NFUcommittee men furious

PRODUCERS anger and frustration over the continuing beef crisis dominated a meeting of the NFUs livestock committee.

"The 27 delegates very forcibly reflected the anger and frustration of the producers they represent," said committee chairman, David Williams.

"It is very clear that on farms where beef production is a major enterprise some peoples businesses are in jeopardy. In my own case beef represents only 25% of total farm output, but the impact of the crisis on my own business is serious.

"I explained everything the NFU has done, and is planning to do, but honestly admitted that I can see no light at the end of the tunnel on the export ban. This remains the main focus for producer anger while they know the standard of British beef is the highest in the world."

Mr Williams confirmed that committee members reported that some producers favoured public protests against increased beef imports. But all agreed that demonstrations at ports would have little impact on a government with a 179 seat majority, and could hit lamb exports.

"What we can do is press for the stringent policing of imports to make sure that they are of the same standard as home produced beef," said Mr Williams.

"Some imports do not comply with the strict BSE controls enforced in this country, and there are signs that the new minister understands that the present situation in Europe is unfair to UK producers.

"The committee re-emphasised the NFUs commitment to seeking real reform of the EU beef support system," he said.

Robert Davies