26 January 1996

Veal crates on way out by 98

EUROPEAN Commission officials have adopted proposals to begin phasing out veal crates in 1998.

Under the plans crates will be outlawed in new holdings from Jan 1 1998, with a total ban by the year 2008. The move was approved despite farm ministers Douglas Hoggs insistence that the ban should be more immediate. He has argued that a 12-year phase-in is too long.

But French officials are demanding a study into the economic impact on the whole sector. Italy, who holds the EU presidency, is also set to resist the plans.

A protest "postcard", signed by 100,000 Dutch, Belgian and French farmers, was handed to the commission this week.

The farmers argue that the ban will create a new beef surplus of 850,000t a year and risk market outlets for 600,000t of skimmed milk powder.

But farm commissioner Franz Fischler warned that failure to address animal welfare concerns could have serious economic implications if consumers reject veal. &#42