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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 05:19 GMT
Export delay frustrates farmers
Pig meat can be exported once more
The EU has raised restrictions on the export of pig meat
Farmers have expressed disappointment that the government has failed to implement regulations allowing British meat to be exported to Europe for the first time since the foot-and-mouth crisis began.

Exports should have started a week ago after the European Union (EU) lifted the ban on the export of pig meat from animals raised in counties completely free of foot-and-mouth.

The ban came into force following the first outbreak of the disease in February.

The decision by the EU's Standing Veterinary Committee to lift it was seen as an important step forward psychologically for an industry that has seen so many doors close in the past few months.

Lamb farming is hit by the rural crisis
Lamb and beef farmers need good news
It was widely welcomed within the farming community, which saw it as the first step towards the wider re-opening of the export market for lamb and beef.

Last week Margaret Beckett said she was unaware of any difficulties starting exports.

But officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) admit it could still be a few more days before British meat can be imported into Europe.

It appears the stringent licensing system demanded by the committee is far from being in place.

A spokesman for the Meat and Livestock Commission said there were already thousands of pounds worth of orders from Europe waiting to be filled.

See also:

29 Oct 01 | England
Farm disease strategy 'lamentable'
22 Oct 01 | Wales
Pig breeders denied export lift
22 Oct 01 | UK
UK pork exports restart
28 Sep 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth restrictions eased
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