FMD will cost industry £10m a week

The ban on meat exports will cost the industry £10m a week, according to the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX).

An automatic export ban has come into effect following the confirmation of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Surrey. It will end three months after the last case is certified. The UK ban on beef exports was only lifted in March 2006.

EBLEX data shows red meat exports were valued at £504m in 2006.

Pig, sheep and cattle movement has been banned and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) is holding talks with leading retailers this week to ensure they are kept up to date on availability of supplies of red meat.

Talks will begin on introducing licensing arrangements for the movement of livestock to slaughter when the authorities are content that it is appropriate to ease the current restrictions.

QMS chairman, Donald Biggar, said: "The focus of the industry is on working together to ensure that this outbreak is contained and our absolute priority is for effective bio-security to help achieve this.

"The information we have from processing companies is that there are enough supplies of beef, lamb and pork from Scotland available to avoid any shortages if the movement restrictions are reasonably short term.

"We are urging our major retailers to stick with us during what we all hope will be brief period of disruption. We are holding talks with key buyers this week and will be pressing home the message that our industry needs their support during this critical time and that if we work together any panic buying of imported product can be avoided."

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