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Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 21:29 GMT
EC outlines mad cow package
Liege blockade
Belgian Farmers in Liege demand financial aid
The European Commissioner for Agriculture Franz Fischler has announced new emergency measures to deal with mad cow disease putting the emphasis firmly on non-industrial farming methods.


This should defuse what is a slowly-ticking time-bomb

European Commissioner for Agriculture
Franz Fischler
Mr Fischler laid out a seven-point emergency plan to the European Parliament in Strasbourg aimed at combating the crisis in the beef market caused by the collapse of consumer confidence.

"The BSE crisis demonstrates the need for a return to farming methods that are more in tune with the environment," he said.

In fact, the EC's long-term objective is to reduce beef production and to move away from intensive, industrial farming methods.

"This is not like a foreman who can immediately shut down a production line," warned Mr Fischler.

Under the new rules EU subsidies will only cover herds of up to 90 cattle - a move aimed at stemming beef production and avoiding the build up of a beef mountain.

Mr Fischler has also extended the cull of cattle which was due to end in July.

Franz Fischler
Franz Fischler says beef production must be cut
It will now continue until the end of the year, but after July countries will be able to choose whether to destroy carcasses or store beef to release it back on the market later on, provided it is free of BSE.

"Our plan will increase the environmental and social sustainability of EU beef production," said Mr Fischler.

"This should defuse what is a slowly-ticking time-bomb."

Farmers have continued their protests against the handling of the crisis.

In Brussels farmers blocked traffic with their trucks to demand more financial aid to deal with the crisis and farmers in France staged a series of protests demanding compensation.

Sales of beef are down over 20% across the European Union but in Germany they have plunged by up to 50%.

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See also:

26 Jan 01 | Europe
UN: World at risk from BSE
23 Dec 00 | Europe
Global alert on BSE
04 Dec 00 | Europe
EU agrees anti-BSE action
13 Feb 01 | Business
BSE threat to EU farm programme
02 Feb 01 | Europe
Germany's mad cow laboratory
31 Jan 01 | Europe
Germany to kill 400,000 cows
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