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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 14:56 GMT
Welsh beef 'demand' as ban ends
Picture of cows
Exports of cattle may resume in about six weeks
Farmers' bodies and political leaders in Wales have welcomed the EU's decision to lift its 10-year worldwide ban on British beef exports.

The ban was introduced in 1996 to combat the spread of BSE - the human form of mad cow disease.

Live animals, beef and beef products should be able to be exported in about six weeks.

Welsh Countryside Minister Carwyn Jones said Welsh beef would be in demand when exports resume.

'High quality'

Welcoming the decision by EU veterinary experts to lift the export ban, which has been in place since 1996, Mr Jones added: "This is very positive news for the British beef industry which, with devolved and central government, has worked hard to control and eradicate the BSE epidemic.

"Welsh farmers produce high quality beef which will be in demand across Europe once the ban is lifted."

The EU has approved a proposal to allow the UK to export cattle born on or after 1 August 1996, and beef and beef products derived from cattle slaughtered after 15 June 2005.

Picture of cows in field
Welsh farmers say there is high demand for their produce

The resolution will go to the European Commission for ratification, but exports should be able to resume by the end of April or early May.

The ban was introduced after millions of cattle had to be destroyed in the UK in the 1990s due to BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), otherwise known as mad cow disease.

BSE has been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a disease that causes paralysis and death in humans. The annual number of BSE cases in the UK peaked at 37,000 in 1992, but has fallen to just over 150 last year.

'New dawn'

Gwyn Howells, of industry body Meat Promotion Wales, said: "What this means is a new dawn, new opportunity, new markets hopefully in continental Europe and with a bearing on the price the farmers receive."

Dai Davies, president of NFU Cymru, added: "It will make a tremendous difference - it will put a bottom in the market.

"There is demand for our beef in Europe because our beef is regarded as some of the best in the world.

"A lot of people have gone out of business, but it's never too late and it's a chance for us to get back into profitable farming."

Finnie welcomes end of beef ban
08 Mar 06 |  Scotland

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