Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lifting of Beef Ban Offers Big Chance

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lifting of Beef Ban Offers Big Chance

Article excerpt

Byline: By Anna Lognonne

The lifting of the British beef ban yesterday will give farmers the chance to recapture the pounds 675m market, which was lost when the embargo was imposed in 1996.

Europe's veterinary experts yesterday unanimously approved the ending of the worldwide ban on British beef exports imposed 10 years ago because of mad cow disease (BSE).

The European Commission is now expected to endorse the lifting of the embargo on UK exports of live cattle, beef and beef products, in about six weeks.

The decision will put Britain's farmers back on an even standing with other farmers within the EU and provide access to markets like France, where beef is wholesaling for over 25p per kilo more than it is in the UK.

And this should give UK beef farmers their best chance for 10 years to break the supermarket stranglehold on farm prices and introduce life-giving competition into a loss-making industry.

The EU's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health decreed that the UK has fulfilled all the necessary conditions for the ban to be lifted.

Key in the decision was the fact that the annual incidence of BSE in Britain is now well below 200 cases per million adult cattle ( the threshold at which a "high risk" category is reduced to "moderate risk". At its peak in 1992, the BSE outbreak recorded more than 37,000 cases of the disease.

Northumberland NFU vice-chairwoman Cheryl Lawson Croome said: "This is excellent news for the industry and can only help to boost the competition in the market place for British beef. For the last 10 years, farmers have worked hard to battle against a number of problems such as BSE and foot-and-mouth and now the health status of British livestock is among the best in the world. We should give ourselves a pat on the back for that.

"The beef produced in the North of England is, in my opinion, the finest in the world, so it's right that the rest of the world has an opportunity to taste it. …

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