British worried by Ulster beef plan

3 August 2000

British worried by Ulster beef plan

by Philip Clarke

BRITISH farmers have voiced concern at proposals which aim to impose stricter conditions on the trade in beef with Northern Ireland.

The province has issued a new consultation document in a bid to secure separate BSE status for Northern Ireland and export beef more freely.

It aims to reassure Brussels that Britain will not use Northern Ireland as a back-door for exports if the province is given more freedom to sell beef abroad.

The document proposes that beef imported from Britain must be dispatched from under veterinary certification, in sealed containers”.

But the plan has raised concern in England and Wales. The National Farmers Union said it supported lower BSE status for Northern Ireland, but not at any cost.

Kevin Pearce, NFU livestock adviser, said: “We oppose any ban on live cattle exports and dont want more costs on an already over-burdened meat chain.”

The British Meat Federation echoed the NFU concerns.

Janet Lim, the federations assistant director, said the proposals were equivalent to an existing scheme which was almost impossible to operate.

An economic assessment accompanying the consultation document admits that the proposals could adversely affect British farmers and traders.

It puts the current value of live exports at about 2.5m a year, with British abattoirs currently supply about 8% of the beef processed in Northern Ireland.

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