16 March 1998
High hopes for beef export vote
By FWi staff
HOPES are high that the ban on UK beef exports could be partially lifted later today (Monday) when European Union farm ministers meet in Brussels.
EU farm ministers are expected to vote in favour of lifting the two-year-old ban for fully-traceable beef herds which have been BSE-free for at least eight years.
In effect, that means beef from Northern Ireland could be back on Continental dinner plates within weeks. Northern Ireland is the only UK region with a computerised system which tracks the farm on which each beef animal was reared. A similar system for the rest of the UK will be up and running later this year.
At least eight of the 15 farm ministers must vote to lift the ban if exports are to resume. So far, only Germany, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg are expected to vote against beef exports and Government officials are optimistic that the vote will be in the UKs favour.