08 April 1998
Ulster beef exports to restart next month?

By Trevor Mason, Press Association

BEEF exports from Northern Ireland could resume next month, the Government indicated today (Wednesday).

Junior Northern Ireland minister Tony Worthington said European Commission officials were to carry out an inspection of all aspects of the export scheme later this month.

“I expect we will be given a clean bill of health, he told the Commons at question-time.

“The Commission will then set a date for the resumption of exports of Northern Ireland beef.

“While I recognise that market conditions are difficult, Im confident the Northern Ireland industry can cope with the challenges on the basis of quality and reputation.”

Pressed by Labours David Chaytor (Bury N), Mr Worthington said it was impossible to give a definitive timescale for the lifting of the export ban.

But he added: “It is conceivable that exports could resume by mid-May.”

European Union farm ministers voted last month in favour of an export certified herds scheme, involving grass-fed BSE-free animals. It has been widely hailed as the first breakthrough in lifting the ban on British beef exports.