17 September 1997
Euro vets in talks on beef export proposals
EUROPEAN veterinary experts are due to meet today to discuss the UKs latest proposals to get the beef export ban lifted under a revised “certified herd” scheme.
The plan is less ambitious than the one rejected three months ago which was deemed to be inadequate.
The new scheme would permit exports from herds which have been BSE-free for at least eight years. The pervious scheme stipulated six years.
Also, to make the certification grade animals must still be in the herd they were born in, or have their movements tracked on computer if they have left the herd. The scheme would be confined to de-boned meat prepared to specifications the commission previously laid down. Meat from cattle younger than six months would be banned.
Northern Ireland is expected to benefit most from the proposals because it already has a computerised tracking database up and running. There could be pressure from some Scientific Veterinary Committee members to restrict any lifting of the ban to the province.
Although the committee has no power to initiate proposals, it is highly influential. If it took a favourable view of the proposal, there would be strong pressure on the European Commission to back the scheme.
The Ministry of Agriculture wants exports of cattle born after August 1 1996 to be permitted. It is challenging the legality of the ban, introduced in March last year.
- Financial Times 17/09/97 page 10