Brussels gets first NI beef in Europe

30 June 1998

Brussels gets first NI beef in Europe

THE first beef exported from the UK in more than two years was eaten at a lunch in Brussels yesterday as Northern Ireland celebrated the resumption of its overseas trade.

The lunch was organised by the Livestock & Meat Commission for Northern Ireland, with Good Meat, a Belgian company, importing a one-tonne shipment of Ulster beef. The company had bought Scottish beef prior to the ban.

Mo Mowlam, Northern Ireland secretary, promised that the Government would maintain pressure to end the ban on British beef. She said Northern Ireland beef was among the safest in the world but “we have to be realistic. It is not going to be easy to get markets back.”

But European Commission officials were guarded yesterday about estimates of when the ban on the rest of the UK might be lifted.

The Commission has approved proposals for a partial lifting of the export ban of beef from cattle born after 1 August, 1996. But the proposal has yet to be put to a vote of EU member states.

The European standing veterinary committee might discuss the proposal again next week, but it has been lukewarm in its response so far. Only Sweden and Ireland support the UK.

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers warned that the eventual lifting of the ban would not result in anything other than a limited tonnage heading for Europe. However, it acknowledged that an immediate lifting of the ban was crucial and claimed farmers would be able to rebuild production levels as quickly as possible.

The ban was lifted against Northern Ireland earlier this year because it has a computerised tracing system recording the history of cattle and a low incidence of BSE.

  • The Scotsman 30/06/98 page 31
  • Financial Times 30/06/98 page 10
  • The Daily Telegraph 30/06/98 page 12

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