Meat ban lifted in UK
the UK to be exported to other member states, and lift the ban
imposed last month after Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) was found on
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said on Wednesday that changes to export rules had been agreed in Brussels, which will allow meat and meat products to be exported from certain areas of England, Scotland and Wales. Defra said a "regionalised approach" has been adopted, which frees up trade from some parts of Great Britain. This applies to meat and meat products from FMD susceptible species to other EU Member States. A withdrawal of the ban will mean businesses can breathe a sigh of relief - as a complete veto may have cost the food industry millions of pounds a week. Secretary of State Hilary Benn said he hoped the decision would ease the financial pressure for farmers. He said: "Whilst I am aware of the difficulties that remain for some farmers, this is good news for the majority of farmers in Great Britain and reflects the extensive surveillance and epidemiological work that is ongoing. I hope that as exports resume this will ease the very real pressures farmers have been facing and we will continue to do all we can to enable exports to resume from the remaining parts of Britain as soon as possible. "The outbreak remains confined to a relatively small part of the country today's decision demonstrates the confidence that the Commission and other Member States have in the measures that we are taking." As long as there are no further outbreaks these changes are expected to come into effect next Friday. Defra said it will be publishing detailed guidance for exporters and the conditions which will apply. One condition is expected to include a requirement for veterinarycertification about the origin of the meat. Markets for FMD susceptible ruminants (including cattle and sheep) are also due to reopen with effect from Wednesday in the FMD Low Risk Area outside of the Bluetongue Protection and Control Zones, Defra said. The department added: "It remains absolutely vital that all involved in the supply chain adhere strictly to licence conditions under which movements can take place and apply strict bio security measures. It is only through the co-operation of all that we will be able to maintain the good progress we have made so far towards easing restrictions where the risk indicates." To date, there are eight Foot and Mouth disease infected premises in the Surrey area. On Bluetongue, there are currently 24 infected premises in the Suffolk area. An FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001 saw five million sheep, 764,000 cattle and 435,000 pigs and goats slaughtered. Compensation paid to farmers hit €4.3bn, while the estimated losses due to reduced tourism amounted to €10.9bn. Beef processors were only allowed to resume trading in 2006, five years after the FMD out break, and 10 years after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis.