October 14, 2008


Irish cattle for BSE testing could save farmers EUR 8 million


FARMERS could save EUR 8 million a year as a result of the cattle age for BSE testing increasing from 30 to 48 months.


Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association beef and cattle committee chairperson Martin McMahon said that the 48-month rule is further evidence that the BSE problem is now firmly in the past.


It also represents full recognition by the European Commission of the excellent system of cattle identification and traceability in Ireland.


He said the new rule removes an unnecessary cost and irrelevant age cut-off point and provides farmers with more flexibility regarding the marketing of their cattle.


Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith speaking at Beef Expo in Kilkenny, said in the light of the progress in reducing the number of cases of BSE from 333 cases in 2002 to 25 last year, he had long been of the view that the current requirements, which are fixed by the EU, are excessive.


Consequently, the first things that Smith did when he became a minister were to write to Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou to press her to increase the age for BSE testing as a priority matter. He is therefore, pleased that the commission has agreed in principle to rise the age for testing to 48 months.


Formal application has proven this higher age has been assessed favourably in recent weeks at various levels within the EU. The await of the completion of various legal and consultation formalities at European Commission and parliament level before the community rules are legally changed.


Mr Smith is confident the process will be finalized shortly and that the new testing regime will be in place from early 2009 and the new arrangements will result in 400,000 fewer BSE tests on cattle slaughtered for human consumption. This will prove a significant save for farmers and the industry.

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