24 December 1999
Welsh could produce veal for France
By FWi staff
A GROUP of Welsh farmers is negotiating a controversial deal to rear veal calves on a welfare-friendly straw yard system and export the carcasses to France.
The politically sensitive initiative would involve feeding batches of bull calves on French-manufactured milk powder, using imported electronic dispensers.
France has incurred the wrath of many British farmers and Westminster after continually refusing European Union calls to lift its ban on British beef.
Hugh Richards, president of the NFU Cymru-Wales, defended his plans for a £7000 building conversion on his farm to enable the project to get off the ground.
“We appreciate that anything involving France is politically sensitive at present, but we have to look at all ways of adding value to these calves,” he said.
“There will be no problem exporting the carcasses of veal calves to France, though we need official conformation of this before we start rearing.”
Feed for the veal calves will be imported because the French company involved in the deal insist that the specification required is not available in Britain.
The Welsh Office is supporting the initiative and the Welsh Development Agency is funding Gelli Aur College, Carmarthen, to do some costings.
Although the project is still in the planning stages, Mr Richards said farmers would only participate in it if they were convinced it would work out.
“Many questions must still be answered because we are not prepared to operate on a wing and a prayer,” he said.