Farmers go to EU in bid to end beef ban

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The Independent Online
UK farmers' leaders were tonight meeting the European Agriculture Commissioner, Franz Fischler, in Brussels in a further bid to ease the EU's worldwide ban on British beef exports.

National Farmers' Union president Sir David Naish and director general Richard Macdonald were seeking Mr Fischler's support for a lifting of the ban on meat from cattle born after a certain date.

The meeting follows yesterday's "opinion" from the EU's Scientific Veterinary Committee that a partial lifting of the ban could be possible where a computerised tracing system and database existed.

At present, that would apply only to Northern Ireland, and the proposal has got a lukewarm response from farmers elsewhere. However, the committee also noted and welcomed the fact that the UK was preparing a separate proposal on animals of a certain age.

Sir David, who met the agriculture minister, Jack Cunningham, in London this morning, said: "I particularly welcome the committee's reference to meat from cattle born after a certain date, which we think should be 1 August 1996.

"There is still a lot of hard work to be done and we are anxious to avoid any measures which would result in a piecemeal lifting of the ban when we really want to see an objective set of criteria which would eventually lead to the whole of the UK being freed from this unjustified imposition."