UKpassport costs unfair
UK farmers are being asked to pay more than three times as much for their cattle passports as French farmers and nearly five times as much as Germanfarmers.
Weeks after the government proposed to start charging producers £7 per passport it has emerged that although other member states do charge their producers the rates are much lower.
In answer to a written Parliamentary question junior farm minister Jeff Rooker has listed charges in other member states which range from nothing in Luxembourg to a £2.50 fee for tagging and registration in Finland.
Producers in France pay £2.30 an animal and in Germany £1.60 – although in Germany some additional costs are recovered from levies paid by farmers.
Meanwhile the Scottish NFU has called for an urgent meeting with Scottish rural affairs minister Ross Finnie, to explain to him of the deep resentment felt by the membership over the proposed charge.
"We have to bring home to the minister the strength of feeling within the industry about the proposed charge. Neither beef nor dairy farmers are in any position to shoulder such a cost," said union vice-president Peter Chapman. *
New dioxin find blow to Belgian pig producers
ANOTHER discovery of dioxin contamination in animal feed has rocked the Belgian pig industry, with over 200 more farms placed under restriction.
The farms concerned had escaped an initial trawl for affected holdings, which focused on those that received feed from one supplier, Verkest, in January. It is believed that this feed was contaminated by a dioxin-laden animal fat from another processor, Fogra.
But the Belgian authorities have since discovered that a second manufacturer may also have been involved, selling contaminated material to pig producers in February and March.
Belgian health minister, Magda Aelvoet, described the latest scare as "serious", but dismissed suggestions that the problem was out of control.
Despite this, the Dutch government immediately re-introduced its ban on Belgian pigmeat and other member states are considering their positions.
The new movement restrictions take the total number of Belgian livestock farms now under quarantine to around 800. A national aid package, worth over BFr2.3bn (£380m), has been given the go ahead by EU farm commissioner, Franz Fischler, though EU assistance still seems unlikely.
Meanwhile, EU scientists meeting in the standing committee on animal nutrition this week, failed to agree maximum levels for dioxin in fishmeal, (to be used in animal feed), after member states with big fishing industries argued that the measure would undermine their interests. Fishmeal has naturally high dioxin content, they argued.
• MEPs, meeting for the first time in the newly-formed agriculture committee, have passed a resolution calling for new food legislation strengthening consumer protection. This should include minimum quality standards for feeding stuffs, spot checks on animal feed and more promotion of organicproduce.
The resolution followed a debate on the dioxin crisis in which MEPs expressed their disbelief at the situation. East Midlands MEP, Phillip Whitehead, felt it was a re-run of the BSE crisis, which was itself a consequence of "disgusting" practices in animal feed. *
THE Countryside Alliance is planning a major pro-hunting demonstration in Bournemouth on Tuesday Sep 28, to coincide with this years Labour Party conference. *
• COMPETITION authorities in Brussels have approved the planned merger between US supermarket giant Wal-Mart and UK multiple retailer ASDA. The deal was originally announced in mid-June, prompting farmer fears that Wal-Mart would squeeze supplier margins still further.
• FORMER New Zealand prime minister, Mike Moore, has been appointed as the new director general of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, to oversee the next round of trade talks which get under way in November. The appointment is seen as a victory for the trade-liberalising Cairns Group, which will be pushing for more radical farm reform from the EU in the next three years.
• THE WTO this week formally approved US sanctions of $117m (£74m) on EU food imports, targeted mainly at Danish, German and French products in particular, in retaliation for the EUs ban on hormone treated beef. A smaller hit-list (worth $8m) is expected from the Canadians imminently.
• COMMISSION president Romano Prodi has called for the creation of a new EU food safety organisation, along the lines of the US Food and Drugs Administration. Speaking at the opening of the new European parliament in Strasbourg last week, he said there had been a loss of confidence in the existing EU and national bodies.
• FRANCE has announced the discovery of the 15th case of BSE this year, in a five-year-old cow from a herd on the Cherbourg peninsular. The animal, together with the other 178 in the herd, has been incinerated.
• IRISH farmer, Jeremiah OBrien, from Co Cork, has become the 9000th successful applicant under the countrys early retirement scheme, designed to encourage the transition from older to younger farmers. The scheme has been available since 1994 and the maximum payable is Ir£9510 (£8060) a year.