Calf exports legal – court
DISAPPOINTMENT from both government and animal welfare campaigners greeted the European Courts ruling that the UK cannot legally prevent the export of calves destined for Continental veal crates once the beef ban is lifted.
The case was taken to court almost three years ago by Compassion in World Farming, challenging the then farm minister William Waldegraves insistence that he could not unilaterally ban calf exports.
Peter Stevenson, CIWF political director, said the organisation was devastated by the judgment.
Junior farm minister Elliot Morley, who had said he would ban live calf exports if the court ruled that such action was legal, said the government was disappointed at the judges decision.
"One consolation is that veal crates, which have been banned in this country since 1990, must be phased out across Europe by 2006," he said.
The NFU, however, welcomed the ruling and the fact that, when the beef ban is lifted, the government would not be "pressured into banning the export of live calves".
And union president Ben Gill insisted that many Continental producers had already moved from veal crates to welfare-friendly calf rearing systems.
"Veal consumption in this country is historically low. Under European free trade rules it is crucial that farmers are allowed to find available markets for their animals, particularly at a time when British farmers are suffering a severe commercial disadvantage compared with their European neighbours," Mr Gill said.