Unlocking the meat supply chain

Cattle and sheep within the bluetongue protection zone will be able to move outside the zone to slaughter from today

News that cattle and sheep within the bluetongue protection zone will be able to move outside the zone to slaughter is a huge help in getting beef and lamb supply chains operating in a more normal fashion according to the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX).

There were only enough abattoirs within the control zone to slaughter about 60% of the livestock ready to go to market.

Defra announced last week that markets will be allowed within the bluetongue control and protection zones from midnight on 14 October. Farmers will also be allowed to move their animals outside the zones for slaughter, to approved abattoirs only.

From today, slaughterhouses outside the bluetongue zones will be able to apply to the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) to be approved to take susceptible animals for slaughter from within the control and protection zones, provided they can fulfil specified criteria. Movements of susceptible animals to approved slaughterhouses will be subject to certain conditions, to minimise the risk of disease spread.

EBLEX chairman John Cross said: "This move comes as a welcome relief as it will take some of the pressure off producers trapped in the bluetongue zone.

"Importantly, it also will help free-up a number of established national meat supply chains which rely on sourcing a proportion of their finished stock from this area of England".

Commenting on the Defra announcement that FMD restrictions outside the risk area will be lifted from 17 October subject to no further foot and mouth outbreaks, John Cross said: "This is good news for beleaguered beef and sheep farmers at their busiest time of year.

"It also sends a clear message to our European export customers that our quality beef and lamb will soon be available across Europe. This is on the eve of the important international food fair, Anuga, in Cologne next week, where EBLEX will be discussing trade opportunities.

"I sincerely hope the EU will look favourably at a full lifting of export restrictions on the UK in the very near future. This will be a key factor in helping to underpin weakening farmgate prices for stock such as cull cows, calves and lambs".

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