THE cost to Government of schemes related to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis is set to reach £3.5 billion by 2000, the National Audit Office says in a report published today.
It estimates total spending on BSE-related schemes has so far reached £2.5bn.
It says the slaughter of 2.6m cattle in 18 months has achieved “impressive results”.
But it criticises prices the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food paid to abattoirs and renderers to slaughter and dispose of animals. The initial disposal fee of £87.50 for each animal fell to an average of £25 “as a result of competition” after July last year when it was put out to tender.
However, it says this was partly excusable because of the political pressure the Government was under to act quickly.
The National Farmers Union of England and Wales said the figures reflected the effect of BSE which still had a crippling impact on the industry.
The Guardian, which reports the findings in the most detail, also carries an article on meat and bonemeal mountains – the heaps of rendered carcasses that have grown up mostly under the Over 30-Month Scheme. They are housed at 12 warehouses at nine sites between Mallusk on the Antrim coast and Wrangaton, Devon.
Meanwhile the Meat and Livestock Commission appealed to affected farmers not to quit in the light of longer-range forecasts which it claimed showed a global increase in the demand for red meat.
- Financial Times 08/07/98 page 10
- The Times 08/07/98 page 2
- The Guardian 08/07/98 page 1, page 10
- The Independent 08/07/98 page 8
- The Daily Telegraph 08/07/98 page 11