NFU Scotland has welcomed the news that a date has now been set for the return of older cattle to the food chain across the UK. From Monday 7 November, a new BSE testing regime will be introduced across the country which will allow cattle aged over thirty months to enter the food chain for the first time in nine years.
NFUS President John Kinnaird said:
"This is a significant milestone on the return to a normal trading environment for Scotland's beef industry. Now a date is set for the introduction of the testing regime and return of older cattle to the food chain, the industry can plan ahead.
"The Scottish Executive deserves a great deal of credit for the way it has kept the momentum up on this issue. There is obviously work still to be done and until the beef export ban is lifted, the industry won't be back on a level playing field with the rest of Europe. I understand good progress is being made on that front following the inspection by Brussels officials in June.
"I am well aware that some beef producers will be nervous about the effect of extra cattle coming onto the market at a time when prices are already under pressure. But we must look beyond that short-term concern and realise this is all part of achieving the longer-term goal of bringing normality back to the industry. The Executive's reassurance that the current Over Thirty Months Scheme will remain in place for the time being is extremely important. That ensures a disposal route is maintained and we need it to remain in place until we get the green light from Europe on exports.
"The industry is finally escaping the dark shadow cast by BSE. Everyone involved deserves a huge amount of credit for the work done over the last nine years to enshrine world class standards of production. We are now starting to see the rewards."