Date-based beef export scheme OK in principle
THE introduction of a date-based beef export scheme has been given the industrys seal of approval, with a proviso from abattoir operators on the effectiveness of farmer declarations on dam survival.
In its response to the government consultation document on the scheme, the Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers said it would rather see veterinary authentication that dams had survived for six months after the birth of the calves destined for export when the market opened up.
The British Veterinary Association – which claimed to have initiated the idea through the British Cattle Veterinary Association – has also expressed some reservations on authenticating farmer declarations.
"In this, as in other areas where a veterinary signature is required, it is important to ensure that veterinarians are not asked to sign anything that they are not able to verify," it said.
Farmers unions, the Livestock Auctioneers Association and the British Cattle Association firmly back the idea, as much for its power in restoring the confidence of British consumers as its potential to speed the resumption of exports.
In its submission to MAFF, the NFU said that in principle, it would be possible to base a system on farmer declarations. It admitted that it would also be possible to base it on veterinary declarations but pointed out that this would involve time and expense. And an NFU official said that on balance, the union preferred the farmer declaration approach.
It offered a third alternative based on the database to be built up by the British Cattle Movement Service and urged that this area be investigated as a more reliable – albeit longer term – alternative to the farmer/vet declaration approach.
Billy Kilpatrick, chairman of the British Cattle Association and council member of the Holstein Friesian Society, said that while these organisations were disappointed with the pre-conditions of the proposals they had concluded they would have to go along with them.
"If we dont it would just put the resumption of exports further back and that is the last thing we want. We do not want anything put in place that would cause further delay," he said.
But, he added that if the government had listened to the BCA seven or eight years ago it would already have had the data base in position and that he said would have answered all the questions. *