19 June 1998
Euro vets delay beef ban vote
By Philip Clarke, Europe editor
EUROPEAN vets, meeting in Brussels yesterday (Thursday) to discuss plans for lifting the UKs beef export ban, have deferred making a decision on the issue until next month.
The influential standing veterinary committee will meet again on 7 July , when the date-based export scheme (DBES) will top the agenda once more.
The committee said it needed more time to discuss the European Commissions recommendation to resume exports from cattle born after 1 August, 1996, the date when meat and bonemeal, thought to have caused the BSE epidemic, was banned on all farms.
“The member states want to be clear on the controls that will be in place, particularly with regard to cattle traceability and the supervision of meat handling in abattoirs and cutting plants,” said one Brussels insider.
“There was also some confusion about the definition of eligible, in that to be eligible, an animal does not have to come from a BSE-free herd, as is the case with the certified herd scheme in Northern Ireland.”
Under the DBES, beef would qualify for export if it was deboned and came from cattle born after 1 August, 1996. The animal must also be between six and 30 months old and there must be evidence that its dam survived six months after giving birth.
That the vets did not vote on the DBES yesterday came as little surprise. But if they are instructed to vote by the Commission at their next meeting, a 72% majority will be needed to secure the lifting of the ban.
This also is believed to be optimistic, and the likelihood is that the proposal will then go to the full council of farm ministers, possibly in July, but more likely in September.