By Emma Penny
FISHMEAL is under the microscope again, this time relating to EU funds for promoting beef.
But the fishmeal industry believes current regulations are an anomaly, and are confident that they will be overturned.
Under EU legislation, retailers and caterers receiving promotion and advertising funds under the EU Quality Beef scheme – worth £1.8m to the UK this year – must ensure cattle eligible for the scheme must not have been fed fishmeal at any time.
Speaking to farmers weekly and raising the concern, Beds-based farm business consultant and beef producer Peter Sharpe said his local abattoir had recently asked him to certify that he did not use fishmeal in his cattle rations.
“I had a request to sign a declaration that I had not fed any fishmeal, fish oils or fish products in finishing diets. We do not feed fishmeal in rations, so it was academic, but I was surprised about it, as we are FABBL members, and fishmeal is permitted under its rules.”
MLC legislation specialist Archie Sains says some people have already raised the point about fishmeal in relation to the scheme, but that it has caused few concerns for producers.
“We have no evidence that the ban has caused anyone any real problems. But we have to abide by the conditions to meet the scheme. I have heard that the EU is reviewing its position, but we have got to live with it for now,” he says.
But a spokesperson speaking on behalf of the Fishmeal Information Network says the regulation is an anomaly after the EUs consultation on fishmeal, which stated that it safe to feed.
“The regulation is obviously completely inconsistent. We have sent a letter to the commission, and understand MAFF is also pressing hard, so we hope to see some action shortly.
“We have been pressing for a change in the regulations since the outcome of the ECs fishmeal consultation in February, and believe there is heavy representation from other countries on this matter.”
The European Quality Beef scheme provides funding towards promoting beef. Member states apply for funding, with the MLC acting as agent in the UK. Multiple retailers, caterers and Q Guild butchers are among those in the UK benefiting from the funding, which covers 60% of promotional costs.