12 May 1998
Cunningham hopes for beef-ban progress in weeks
By Johann Tasker in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
FARM minister Jack Cunningham today (Tuesday) told farmers he hoped “real progress” would be made within weeks to get the beef export ban lifted.
His comments came the day after European farm commissioner Franz Fischler raised hopes that the ban could be lifted by the end of this year.
Dr Cunningham met a group of about 75 placard-waving farmers, who lobbied EU farm ministers arriving for an Informal Council Meeting at the Gosforth Park Hotel, Newcastle.
“There is nothing you can advise me to do that we are not already doing in terms of getting the ban lifted,” Dr Cunningham said. “I hope that later this month, or perhaps early in June, we will see further real progress in that direction.”
Yesterday, Commissioner Fischler said the EU Commission would next month propose to allow the UK to export beef from animals born after 1 August, 1996.
NFU president Ben Gill, who met the EU farm ministers this morning, believed that exports from Northern Ireland would be given the all-clear next month. He said the born-after scheme should be in place as soon as possible.
“What we need is these proposals at least well down the road, if not agreed, before the summer break.” The Commission suspends operations during August.