17 March 1998
Beef ban could be gone within the year – Cunningham
By FWi staff
FARM minister Jack Cunningham hopes that the beef ban could be lifted for the entire UK before the end of this year.
“Thats what were pressing for. Its very important that we do win that victory for our beef farmers generally,” he told listeners to BBC Radio 5 Live this morning.
Dr Cunningham welcomed last nights vote in Brussels which eased the ban on exports from Northern Ireland.
“Its good news for UK beef farmers generally because we now have acceptance, not only by the commission and its scientific committees, but also by the Council of Ministers, that our beef is safe to export, and that is an important principle to have got established.”
Dr Cunningham said getting the ban lifted for the whole UK does not rely on the computerised cattle tracking system at Workington – even though that will be up and running within the next few months.
“We already have a paper-based traceability system for animals and we already have under consideration a second scheme based on the date of August 1, 1996,” he said. “The scheme under consideration and with the Commission right now would apply to all animals born after that date throughout the United Kingdom.”
“That is a universal scheme, a much bigger scheme than the one which will apply to Northern Ireland. But it was important to get the principle established first, which we did very successfully last night in a vote that was overwhelming.”