Fears that exports of British calves to the Continent could be banned have been allayed, following a meeting of EU vets in Brussels on Wednesday (23 July).
The vets were discussing what to do following the revelation that 12 calves infected with bovine TB-infected had been exported from the UK to Holland sometime in May (News, 18 July).
Even though the herd from which they came appeared TB-free at the time, it subsequently went down with the disease, as did the exported calves.
The Dutch trade and farming industry was furious at the breakdown in bio-security, and last week demanded an export ban.
But the EU Commission has sought a more proportionate response, accepting that the incident was a “one off”.
Initially it tabled a proposal to the influential SCOFCAH committee, made up of EU member state vets, which would have significantly tightened the TB testing regime for British farms to the extent that calf exports would have been unviable.
But, following intervention by UK officials in Brussels, the SCOFCAH committee was persuaded that the plans would be massively disruptive to the trade and would achieve little. “Even with this additional testing, it would not have prevented the export of these calves to Holland,” said an official.
The UK was not totally off the hook, he added. “The EU Commission is still keeping our TB control programme under scrutiny,” he said. “A number of Food and Veterinary Office reports have identified perceived shortcomings – for example in the frequency of testing and the use of parishes as control areas. They may come back on this in future.”