17 April 2000
Over-12-month BSE regs for sheep
AS a hill farmer I believe the government could stop the BSE slaughter regulations on over-12-month sheep.
Slaughter companies estimate that the regs cost 8/sheep to implement. Last year, this resulted in cast ewe prices of less than 1 each, yet so far only 200 sheep have been tested for BSE by SEAC.
Last years cast ewe price resulted in catastrophic falls in the price of breeding sheep, and in this market the hill farmer is the one at the end of the chain.
How many sheep does SEAC want to see tested before these restrictions are lifted?
Lets find out now so that we can test them; then lift the restrictions before breeding sales begin again this summer.
Lets also bear in mind that any risk of BSE existing in the sheep population is said to be theoretical – sheep live about eight years, while meat and bonemeal has been banned in sheep feed for 10 years and from all livestock feed for six years.
If BSE does exist in the sheep population, it will be there now. So there is no reason to delay testing.