Live exports to resume in a fortnight

Live exports from much of Great Britain to the rest of the EU will be able to resume in about two weeks time, following a decision by EU vets meeting in Brussels on Monday (3 December).

The main exception will be the bluetongue zones and the area in and around Surrey where the foot and mouth outbreaks occurred in August and September. Click here to see DEFRA’s new map.

Farmers in this area will have to wait until the end of the year before they can resume live exports.

The new rule – expected to be approved on or around 14 December – will also bring an end to the requirement for animals moving out of this “FMD restricted export area” to be blood tested or subject to a 21-day standstill if they are moved to a farm in the “FMD export free area” (ie the rest of the country).

The changes have been welcomed by the farming unions.

“This is excellent news,” said an NFU spokesman in Brussels. “We thought we would have to wait until the end of the year for live exports to resume.

“We had a meeting with the EU meat traders’ organisation yesterday and the message from Holland was that they are crying out for calves. The demand is definitely still there.”

A spokesperson for NFU Scotland said there was a significant and growing export trade for dairy bull calves as well as pedigree cattle from Scotland.

“Many farmers will welcome the resumption of this trade to help get the industry out of the crisis caused by the FMD outbreak,” she said.

The new rules will only apply to EU trade. Trade with Third countries will only resume when GB gets its official FMD-free status back from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) at the end of the year.

* Unrestricted exports of meat and meat products from the new “FMD free export area” – covering the whole country except for Surrey and a few surrounding districts – should be able to resume from Wednesday (5 December). This follows publication of a regulation agreed by EU vets two weeks ago, on 20 November.

That decision also allows exports of meat and meat products from the “FMD restricted export area”, subject to a 21 day standstill period (7 days for pigs).