29 October 2001
Pig export licences available now

By Alistair Driver

PIG farmers should be able to apply for export licences from Monday (October 29), according to a government official.

The move will be welcomed by farmers frustrated at being unable to export any pigmeat despite the lifting of a ban on shipments on 22 October.

The first exports of British meat since the start of foot-and-mouth should now take place by the end of the week, said the National Pig Association.

But NPA chief executive Stuart Royston said the governments failure to put a licensing system in place earlier had left pig farmers hanging on.

The government had proved unable to translate complex conditions laid down by the European Union sooner, he said.

Pig farmers have also voiced anger that they will have to pay the cost of having their farms inspected as part of the licensing process.

Mr Royston said producers were upset that the cost of inspecting farms could be about 50 for every load of pigmeat exported.

Ministers have said inspection is an export and marketing issue but we do not know how they can come to that conclusion, he added.

We say the inspection measure is a disease control and we are going to lobby for the government to pay.

A Meat and Livestock Commission spokesman said a number of farmers have already signed agreements with European buyers to resume exports.

There are plenty of people within the EU who say they want British pigmeat back, he said.

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