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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 14:53 GMT
Lamb export ban partially lifted
A Welsh sheep flock
Welsh sheep farmers await the EU vets decision.
European vets have agreed to the partial lifting of the ban on lamb exports in areas of Wales which have not had any cases of foot- and-mouth disease.

The decision - taken in Brussels on Tuesday - must now be rubberstamped by the European Commission's college of commissioners, which is likely to happen in the next week or so.

Elfed Williams, the NFU secretary for the Llanrwst area, said this could be "very good news for many counties across

Wales".

Around two million Welsh lamb are exported in a trade worth 100m a year.

Gwynedd - an area which never had any foot-and-mouth cases - is one of the counties that would benefit from the decision.

Beate Gminder, the European Commission spokesperson for Health and Consumer Protection, said the EU has already begun a staged relaxation of exports of pig meat.

She expected that after allowing exports from counties that have never had a foot-and-mouth case, a ban relaxation in areas free of the disease for 90 days would follow.

Lamb
Around two million lambs are normally exported

Attempts closer to home to boost lamb sales include large supermarkets chains like Iceland which have started to sell Welsh hill lambs, opening a much-needed new market.

The hope now is that this new market will help avoid any future unnecessary lamb culls.

The EU committee has also agreed to allow areas which have foot-and-mouth free status to export beef.

This will include an area like Anglesey which had cases of the virus but which is now clear.

Meanwhile, Muslim families are being targeted in a campaign aimed at boosting sales of British lamb.

The Meat and Livestock Commission is distributing recipe leaflets - in English and Urdu - to halal butchers as part of the promotion.

Although Muslim families represent just 5% of the population, they consume an estimated 20% of all British lamb and mutton.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Nia Thomas reports
"It's a lucrative market in southern Europe."
See also:

31 Oct 01 | Wales
Lambs slaughter falls short
29 Oct 01 | England
Minister defends disease strategy
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