5 April 1996

Scotland ready to go it alone

COMPLETE eradication of BSE is the only solution to the current beef crisis and Scotland should be prepared to go it alone to achieve that status, says Brian Pack, chief executive of the countrys biggest marts and meat business.

"I cannot say which policy would achieve our aim. We need the advice of experts. But what is clear is that complete disease eradication is the only way we will stop lurching from one crisis to the next."

Mr Pack heads the Aberdeenshire-based ANM Group, which has 9000 farmer members, three meat businesses and the biggest auction mart in Scotland.

"If it is thought that eradication is not possible for the whole of the UK then the much lower incidence of the disease in Scotland should be taken into account and we should do our own thing.

"I think it is time that we considered a Scottish solution to the problem. We must achieve BSE-free status as soon as possible. One option would be to draw a line now and say that every case of BSE from now on involves the complete slaughter of that herd. But that is just one option and we really need expert advice on the best way to achieve eradication."

He warned that, with the industry at a standstill, no one had really considered the extra costs that would be imposed by current control measures.

"It is going to cost £100/t to have the offal removed from our abattoirs," said Mr Pack. "That will cost £10,000 a week for one of our plants. We will have to pay for heads to be removed, heads that used to be worth £1 apiece. To become a licensed deboning plant will demand full-time attendance by a meat hygiene service official. The dentition of every animal will have to be checked for the 30-month rule. The costs are horrendous," he warned. &#42