27 May 1998
Ulster beef gets the green light
By Johann Tasker in Brussels and FWi reporters
BEEF exports from Northern Ireland can resume from Monday (1 June), ending global export ban, imposed more than two years ago, on the Provinces product.
As predicted, the European Commission today (Wednesday) lifted the ban after months of wrangling over Northern Irelands certified-herd scheme.
“This is certainly a very welcome development at a time when many beef producers in Northern Ireland have been facing financial ruin,” said Trevor Lockhart of the Ulster Farmers Union.
But it is likely to be days, if not weeks, before any shipments leave Ulster. Mr Lockhart said this was because farmers and exporters have to meet stringent guidelines. Also, the two meat plants commissioned to start proceedings have to come to grips with a number of “mundane things” such as labelling.
The only meat eligible for export is that which comes from herds certified BSE-free for at least eight years. In addition, the history and movements of these herds must be recorded on Northern Irelands official computerised database.
Beef exports from Northern Ireland totalled £200 million, an estimated 56% of the Provinces beef output, before the export ban was imposed.