Case for lifting beef ban in NI overwhelming, says committee

28 March 1997




Case for lifting beef ban in NI overwhelming, says committee


By Shelley Wright

AN overwhelming case exists for early lifting of the beef ban in Northern Ireland, says a committee of MPs.

The country should not be held back by the anticipated slow progress of the UK certified herd scheme, it adds.

The cross-Party Northern Ireland affairs committee says that if government fails to make progress getting the beef ban lifted for certified herds across the UK then it should negotiate special exemption for Northern Ireland.

The committee, with MPs from across the UK, insist the case for an early lifting of the ban in the province is overwhelming.

That has delighted Ulster Farmers Union president, Greer McCollum, who says the report has endorsed everything that the union has been fighting for. But the Scottish NFU immediately insisted, again, that there must be no special deals for Ulster.

In their report on the effect of BSE and the export ban on Northern Ireland, the MPs believe there will be delays in getting EU approval for the UK certified herd scheme. And, if that happens, they urge government to seek an early deal to allow Northern Ireland to act as a "bridgehead for the resumption of the sales of beef from certified herds elsewhere in the UK once adequate tracing systems are established".

The report concludes: "It would be unjust to beef producers in Northern Ireland, and very damaging to the local economy, if Northern Ireland beef continued to be ineligible for export because of doubts about beef from elsewhere in the UK."

In his evidence to the committee, farm minister, Douglas Hogg, did not rule out such a move. He said he understood Northern Irelands strong case, and also the arguments that it would be in the interest of the UK to at least "get a foot in the door" by resuming exports from part of the country.

But no decisions would be taken until the commissions views on the certified herd scheme were known, which could take months, he said.

Mr McCollum would like immediate exemption from the ban for the province. But he says his union will wait until the commission reaches a conclusion on the certified herd scheme. "I think that will be the end of June, at the earliest. And then we will push very hard for a fast track for Northern Ireland," he adds.

Baroness Denton, NI farm minister, believes 97% of the prov-inces beef units will qualify for the certified scheme. Neither MAFF nor the NFU have estimated how many in Britain might qualify. &#42

By Shelley Wright

AN overwhelming case exists for early lifting of the beef ban in Northern Ireland, says a committee of MPs.

The country should not be held back by the anticipated slow progress of the UK certified herd scheme, it adds.

The cross-Party Northern Ireland affairs committee says that if government fails to make progress getting the beef ban lifted for certified herds across the UK then it should negotiate special exemption for Northern Ireland.

The committee, with MPs from across the UK, insist the case for an early lifting of the ban in the province is overwhelming.

That has delighted Ulster Farmers Union president, Greer McCollum, who says the report has endorsed everything that the union has been fighting for. But the Scottish NFU immediately insisted, again, that there must be no special deals for Ulster.

In their report on the effect of BSE and the export ban on Northern Ireland, the MPs believe there will be delays in getting EU approval for the UK certified herd scheme. And, if that happens, they urge government to seek an early deal to allow Northern Ireland to act as a "bridgehead for the resumption of the sales of beef from certified herds elsewhere in the UK once adequate tracing systems are established".

The report concludes: "It would be unjust to beef producers in Northern Ireland, and very damaging to the local economy, if Northern Ireland beef continued to be ineligible for export because of doubts about beef from elsewhere in the UK."

In his evidence to the committee, farm minister, Douglas Hogg, did not rule out such a move. He said he understood Northern Irelands strong case, and also the arguments that it would be in the interest of the UK to at least "get a foot in the door" by resuming exports from part of the country.

But no decisions would be taken until the commissions views on the certified herd scheme were known, which could take months, he said.

Mr McCollum would like immediate exemption from the ban for the province. But he says his union will wait until the commission reaches a conclusion on the certified herd scheme. "I think that will be the end of June, at the earliest. And then we will push very hard for a fast track for Northern Ireland," he adds.

Baroness Denton, NI farm minister, believes 97% of the prov-inces beef units will qualify for the certified scheme. Neither MAFF nor the NFU have estimated how many in Britain might qualify. &#42


Upcoming webinar

What does the future of farming look like post Covid-19 and Brexit?

Register now
See more