Get tough on meat imports – Walker

4 May 2001

Get tough on meat imports – Walker

By FWi staff

TOUGH new controls on the import of meat are needed to prevent another outbreak of foot-and-mouth, a farmers leader has warned.

A single body is required to oversee monitoring undertaken by various authorities, claims National Farmers Union of Scotland president Jim Walker.

There is too much scope for confusion, despite Agriculture Minister Nick Brown announcing tightened controls on Thursday (03 May), claimed Mr Walker.

The Ministry of Agriculture, port health authorities, local authorities, Customs and Excise and the Foods Standards Agency will play a role in tightening checks.

“But no one has been put in overall charge of making sure that no illegal or sub-standard meat finds its way into this country,” said Mr Walker

“With all these organisations involved, the scope for confusion is enormous.

“Overall responsibility needs to be clearly defined and the task needs to have proper resources allocated to it, said the NFUS leader.

Mr Walker said the foot-and-mouth epidemic and continuing problems with spinal cord on beef imports, showed controls are “simply not up to scratch”.

National Farmers Union president Ben Gill agreed that it was vital that infected meat is prevented from reaching UK shores ever again.

“It is vital that a joint approach is taken in the task of closing the door permanently on foot and mouth and other exotic diseases,” he said.

Mr Gill welcomed Mr Browns decision to ban swill containing meat — widely believed to be the source of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

This ban, which comes into effect on 24 May, was “another weapon in the armoury against foot and mouth disease in future”, said Mr Gill.

Mr Gill said he was pleased that that non-meat swill can still be fed.

There was concern in some quarters that meat could inadvertently find its into non-meat swill.

The NFU also welcomed news from the Minister that routes are to be opened to allow meat from uninfected animals on farms within 3km of confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, Welsh farming unions have praised National Assembly proposals to offer free business advice to farmers whose livestock has been culled.

The Farming Connect scheme will involve business evaluation, farm business development plans, and the possibility of aid for capital works.

Farmers Union of Wales land use officer Rhian Nowell-Phillips this will help farmers make informed choices as a first step in their recovery from this crisis.

Hugh Richards, President of NFU Cymru, said it was vital that these farmers had access to a full evaluation which looked at all their options for the future.


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