20 May 1998
Northern Ireland beef exports to resume in June
By Boyd Champness
BEEF exports from Northern Ireland are to resume at the start of June after the European Unions Standing Veterinary Committee gave the all-clear yesterday (Tuesday).
Northern Irelands certified-herds scheme was approved by EU farm ministers in March. However, the Provinces slaughterhouses and meat plants had to undergo a rigorous inspection process and overcome a number of technical hurdles before shipments could resume.
An EU official said European commissioners were likely to set a date for the resumption of exports when they meet next week after Euro-vets yesterday endorsed the ECs report on Northern Ireland. If the commissioners act quickly, exports could be up and running by 1 June, he said.
Initial exports from Northern Ireland are expected to be slow, with only one abattoir and one meat plant granted permission to export at this stage. This will be beefed-up once the programme gains momentum.
Franz Fischler, European farm commissioner, indicated last week that he would be tabling the UKs other export proposal – the date-based scheme – to farm ministers next month. But even if the UKs date-base scheme gains enough European support to allow Great Britain to resume exports, shipments are not expected to re-start until the end of the year.