15 August 1997

OK to extend cull if exports date-based

FARM union leaders will back plans to extend the selective cull to take account of maternal transmission as long as it will lead the European Commission to accept the UKs date-based export scheme.

Both the NFU and CLA this week signalled their support for an extended cull, following a meeting with MAFF last week, which could involve up to 11,000 calves born to cows that subsequently contracted BSE.

But there are concerns that MAFF may give priority to animals targeted under the extended cull rather than those involved in the ongoing selective cull.

So far, just 17,135 out of an estimated 100,000 animals have been culled. A further 7088 slaughter notice forms have been issued and 19,000 animals placed under restriction.

Stephen Rossides, NFU head of livestock, said the recommendation by the governments BSE advisory committee for a further cull (News, Aug 8), to take into account of offspring likely to contract BSE, was acceptable.

Mr Rossides said a maternal transmission programme would be needed for MAFFs date-based scheme, designed to ease the lifting of the beef ban, to be considered by the EU Commission.

Lucy Morgan-Edwards, CLA agriculture land use adviser, said she expected MAFF to consult in Sept with industry over the size of the cull and compensation available.

MAFFwould finance the scheme without any support from the commission and would run the cull itself rather than through the Intervention Board, she said.n