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    NFUS Visit Confirms Calf Exports Are in Safe Hands
13/07/06

NFU Scotland Livestock Chairman, Nigel Miller, has confirmed, following a trip to visit veal producers in Belgium, that calves exported there from the UK are in safe hands.

calf

Before being able to offer full support for the calf export trade, and aware of some concerns being voiced, NFU Scotland wanted to ensure that the systems being used in Europe ensure high standards of care.

Nigel Miller, along with a group of British MPs, spent a full day in Belgium visiting four farms and a slaughterhouse, all on contract to a family run company, Vanlommel, which sources some of its calves from Scotland. The company, which controls a total of 70 farms, specialises in veal production and manages the entire production process from calf procurement, nutrition and health to processing and packaging.

Mr Miller confirmed that the standards of care were of an extremely high quality, with in-house vets compulsory and all technical expertise underpinned by an independent Swedish audit company.

Speaking on his return, Nigel Miller, who is also a qualified vet, said:

“These farms are producing a premium product which they are extremely proud of. I was very impressed by the levels of care, enthusiasm and knowledge demonstrated by the producers I met and I have a great deal of confidence in the systems and facilities in operation.

“Some people will be uneasy about the veal industry but we must remember that we are dealing with an entirely different culture over in Belgium. There is no veal industry in the UK to enable a comparison, but in Belgium it is a vital part of the economy and as such, producers take every care to do it in the best way possible and to the highest standards.

“I saw animals experience exacting standards of nutrition, being fed on milk, maize silage or course grain and iron supplements where necessary. The calves are seemingly happy and thriving, being given freedom for social contact and receiving individual attention, all evidence that the system is delivering healthy calves. The animals are clean and the purpose built buildings are also clean and well ventilated. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of space each animal gets and with the precautions which are taken to control disease. All of the vet input is both frequent and top quality and everything I saw was obliged to meet with Belgian Veal Association specifications, with the farms undergoing regular independent audits.

“NFU Scotland promised to undertake this visit so that we can assure sceptics, from our own first-hand experience, that the systems in operation in Belgium are welfare friendly. We have delivered on that promise and are happy with what we’ve seen. If these farms are a barometer of what is happening elsewhere in Europe then I have confidence in the way the veal trade is operating.”

link Call for Flexibility Over Emergency Slaughter Rules
link Double Standards for Home Produced and Imported Beef
link Butchers Get Guide on Removal of Bovine SRM

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