UK farmers can export beef again

BRITISH FARMERS should be free to export beef from 1 August, marking the end of the international ban brought about by mad cow disease, and the beginning of the fight to recapture a market worth millions of pounds.

The European Commission said yesterday that it expects the formal decision to lift the blockade to be taken next week, and that some categories of British beef will finally reach continental dining tables at the beginning of next month.

The crisis has cost British exporters more than pounds 1bn and UK tax-taxpayers a further pounds 3bn.

Assuming the formalities are completed, the beef industry will pass a huge, symbolic landmark on 1 August, although the economic effects will be felt for years to come.

Sales of all British beef outside the UK were banned in March 1996 after the Government announced a possible link between mad cow disease in beef and its human equivalent Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Almost all Europe's deaths from the human strain of CJD were in Britain.

Only small quantities of high-quality British beef are likely to be exported in the short term, aimed at the catering trade rather than supermarket shelves.

The Meat and Livestock Commission already has well-developed plans for a worldwide marketing campaign to promote British beef and is expected to focus on quality breeds such as Aberdeen Angus. But broader consumer resistance to British beef is still high, particularly in Germany, where food safety is a sensitive issue.

The problems have been illustrated by the situation in Northern Ireland, which has a computer tracking system and has been permitted to export beef it could prove BSE-free for almost a year. But it has had difficulty rebuilding markets.

The export scheme for the rest of the UK also imposes strict restrictions on the type of British produce that will be available abroad. It will have to be de-boned meat from animals born after 1 August 1996 - the date when a ban on feeding meat and bonemeal to live-stock first came into effect - and aged between 6 and 30 months.

Moreover, abattoirs that want to sell to the continental market will have to be dedicated to that trade, making the economics of the export business much more problematic.

The decision to lift the ban in principle was taken by ministers last November and the Ministry of Agriculture had hoped to have it lifted by the spring. But the British Government still had to go through a number of hoops, including an inspection on the ground by EU veterinary experts.

Yesterday Gerry Kiely, spokesman for the acting agriculture commissioner, Franz Fischler, said that the Commission had sought and won a series of assurances on technical points.

A spokesman for the Meat and Livestock Commission, Ray Barrowdale, said: "As far as we are aware the inspection found no problems with the plants they visited. Initially I think four or five plants will begin exporting beef as they have to be dedicated to producing exports and that is obviously a commercial decision."

A spokesman for the National Farmers' Union added: "We are delighted that it looks like the ban will finally be lifted and we are working to ensure that British beef farmers can get their product back on the market."

The lifting of the ban will not mark the end of Europe's devastating agricultural crisis over BSE. Portugal faces another year-long export ban after an outbreak last year. The effect there has, however, been limited because most meat produced in Portugal is for domestic consumption.

Suggested Topics
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment