Brown in beef peace talks

2 November 1999

Brown in beef peace talks

NICK BROWN, the agriculture secretary, is today (Tuesday) expected to adopt a conciliatory tone to try to resolve the Anglo-French beef dispute, when he meets David Byrne, the EU consumer affairs commissioner.

He will discuss testing for BSE and labelling of British beef, which have concerned Paris.

Jean Glavany, French agriculture minister, will discuss the situation with Mr Byrne before all three men meet for further talks.

Mr Brown will consider suggestions that British beef should be labelled clearly to enable European consumers to make an informed purchasing choice.

But while prospects of France lifting the ban were rising, a hardening of Germanys attitude towards British beef was apparent.

Seven German states have now declared they will not lift their ban. The states control the upper house of parliament, which must ratify any dropping of the ban.

The Financial Times reports from the St Merryn Food Groups abattoir in Probus, Cornwall, which has been set up to export beef but is conducting very little business.

The industry exported 274,000 tonnes of beef in 1995, three-quarters of which went to continental Europe. One source said todays orders are “almost negligible”.

Only three countries, Belgium, Italy and Spain, have placed orders for British beef.

South Africa, once a major importer with 27,000 tonnes in 1995, is likely to do so once the internal European Union dispute is settled.

A major South African importer who, before the BSE crisis, was taking 1500 tonnes a month, told Radio 4s Farming Today programme he hoped the trade would be up and running within two months.

However, he warned that prices had to be competitive or he would buy elsewhere.

The education section of The Guardian, addressed towards teachers and pupils, sets out a two-page background on the livestock industrys codes of practice in a report on food safety issues.

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