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Pork export crisis grows

by 5m Editor
20 August 2007, at 9:40am

IRELAND - MEP Jim Allister has expressed alarm that exports of Northern Ireland pigmeat continue to be blocked, despite the province being recognised as a Foot and Mouth-free region.

"Northern Ireland's Foot and Mouth-free status was confirmed by the European Commission, in light of the SCoFCAH meeting last week," he told Farming Life.

"In recognition of the need to resume normal trading arrangements outside of the EU, I have spoken with a number of authorities, including the British Embassy in Tokyo.

"I understand a letter has only just been sent by the DARD and DEFRA Chief Veterinary Officers to the Japanese authorities, to clarify Northern Ireland's foot and mouth-free status, as distinct from the EU ban in place in the rest of the UK. I am surprised it took our authorities so long to send this letter of clarification."

Jim Allister has also made representation to the NI Bureau in Brussels, and directly to the European Commission, so as to ensure they are fully aware of the unfair trade restrictions in place.

"I was informed that the Commission is prepared to act, but not without being requested to do so by the competent Member State authorities. I understand this request has not yet been made," he stressed.

"One Northern Ireland company has containers of pigmeat waiting to be admitted into the United States by the American Authorities. I have contacted the United States Department of Agriculture on their behalf in an effort to have this issue resolved."

Meanwhile the Pork and Bacon Forum is pressing both DARD and Defra to speed up their response time to local processers when it comes to providing the new certificates required to accompany pigmeat exports from Northern Ireland.

"Different certification is required for cured and cooked meats," added the organisation's chief executive Keith Smyton.

"Steps must also be taken to highlight Northern Ireland's foot and mouth free status on the Defra website. I know that customers for local pork in countries such as Japan are totally concerned about the lack of clear information about the province that is currently available on the site.

We are also calling for much greater levels of cooperation between Defra and DARD so as to ensure that pork exports from Northern Ireland can be maintained at pre foot and mouth levels."

Source: Farming Life

5m Editor