Fischler raises hopes of
end to beef export ban…
THERE is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of getting the beef ban lifted, EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler told farmers during his three-day visit to Britain this week.
But he advised the government to continue to push its certified herd scheme proposal, which the EU commissions scientific advisers have already indicated would apply to Northern Ireland alone, rather than concentrate on the date-based export scheme proposal that was submitted to Brussels late last week.
Mr Fischler, who spoke to 200 farmers at Hexham market at an NFU meeting on Mon and addressed another 200 Scottish NFU members and guests in Edinburgh on Tue, said: "You must not think we are always looking for excuses to delay. But we received the date-based proposal only last Friday….and it will have to win approval from the scientists before it can begin the decision-making process.
"On the other hand, the certified herds proposal has been given the green light by scientists…and that proposal is now ready for decisions. It is up to you, but I think it would be wise to continue with the certified herds approach," he said.
MAFF officials were due to continue discussions with commission officials in Brussels yesterday (Thur) on the certified herd scheme. And it is expected that a formal request for the beef ban to be lifted will follow immediately.
The date-based scheme, which would allow exports of beef from cattle born after Aug 1, 1996, should apply to many more producers throughout the UK. But it would involve an extension of the selective cull to take account of maternal transmission of BSE.
Up to 14,000 cattle born since Aug 1, 1996, whose dams had subsequently developed BSE would be compulsorily slaughtered if the EU scientists accepted the export scheme. Britains farming unions, which have campaigned for months to have a date-based scheme, welcomed Dr Cunninghams move.
But Scottish NFU president, Sandy Mole, was dismayed by Mr Fischlers lukewarm reception of the new proposal. "It means the export train is leaving with only Northern Ireland on board. And, by following the commissioners advice we could be frozen out of the export market for years to come.
"We know that the data-based proposal will have to go before the scientific veterinary committee. But it is better to do the right thing slowly than the wrong thing quickly and I hope the Government will continue with the date-based approach," Mr Mole said.
Franz Fischler advises UKto push ahead with the certified scheme.