25 September 1998
Petty jealousies block resumption of ewe trade
By FWi staff
PETTY jealousies among government departments have been blamed for the delay in the resumption of a whole-carcass ewe trade with France, said to be costing farmers more than £170,000 a week.
Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar said three weeks ago that he was on the verge of amending regulations to allow the resumption of the trade which was banned in January because of specified risk material regulations.
The statement is said to have infuriated officials at MAFF and the Department of Health who had not been told about Mr Dewars plans. The latest advice from the Scottish Office is that detailed discussions are taking longer than expected.
The trade has estimated that a resumption of the carcass trade would lift cast ewe prices by up to £15 a head. Before it was stopped, 2800t of whole-carcasses a year were being exported to France, equivalent to about 600,000 ewes. Now only split-carcasses without the spinal cord are exported.
A MAFF spokeswoman said ministers hoped to sign the order allowing a resumption of the trade by early next week. She could not explain the delays.