03 March 1998
Hopes for limited resumption of NI beef exports tomorrow
HOPES are high that Northern Ireland will get a limited go-ahead tomorrow to resume beef exports.
Chief veterinary officers of the Standing Veterinary Committee are meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow to discuss the possible lifting of the ban for Northern Ireland.
Jacques Santer, president of the European Commission, said he was “quite
confident” a majority of European Union states would give Northern Ireland the green light as the first step to remove the ban on all UK beef products. The ban was imposed in June 1996 after scientists revealed that BSE could be passed onto humans.
Under the proposal, Northern Ireland will only be allowed to export cattle through its certified herd scheme – which guarantees the animals are BSE-free.
The Ulster Farmers Union gave a cautious welcome to Santers comments but it was wary about having hopes dashed. The department of agriculture said it would “wait and see”.
However, a spokesman for Franz Fischler, agriculture commissioner, was “not so confident”. If the proposal is rejected by the chief veterinary officers of member states tomorrow then the matter will be passed onto EU farm ministers for a decision at their next meeting which is on March 16-17.
- Financial Times 03/03/98 page 9, page 29 (Observer)