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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 13 December

Beef: Commission will formally adopt exceptional BSE-measures

Following the discussion in the EU's Management Committee for Beef and Veal 1 , the Commission will now formally adopt the different support measures for the beef sector: The "purchase for destruction" scheme, the modalities for public intervention and the increase of the advances for the beef premia. In a bid to restore consumer confidence in beef and to tackle oversupply on the EU beef market as a result of reduced consumption the Commission will decide to start the "purchase for destruction scheme" for cattle older than 30 months, unless they tested BSE-negative, from 1 January 2001. The price paid to farmers for these animals, that will no longer be made available for human consumption, will be fixed on the basis of the market price in the Member States, according to the quality category of the meat concerned. In any case, the prices must be set at a level which guarantees the proper functioning of the destruction scheme. The EU budget will co-fund the expenditure at a flat-rate of 70% (see Annex). In order to ensure that the animals concerned are not used for human consumption, animal feed or medical products, the carcasses will have to be stained and separately stored. The Commission will carry out spot-checks to ensure that the scheme is properly applied and controlled in the Member States. Following the decision of 4 December 2000 of the EU's Council of Farm Ministers, the low BSE-risk countries, namely Finland, Austria and Sweden, have the option of allowing animals aged over 30 months to be slaughtered for their NATIONAL market without a BSE test. All the meat exports have to be BSE-tested. The scheme will now be formally adopted by the Commission.

The Commission also decided to fix the modalities for offering male beef into public intervention. The first decision what quantities of beef will be bought into intervention will be taken in the next Beef Management Committee on 15 December. It was further decided to increase the advances for the beef premia paid to farmers from 60% to 80%.

Commenting on the decision, Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said "This scheme will maximise guarantees for consumers and minimise the costs for taxpayers. Obviously, this extraordinary measure will cost money - for farmers, the meat industry, Member States and the EU. But I am convinced that this money is a sound investment. I am glad that the Heads of State and the Farm Ministers endorsed the Commission's approach that a swift reaction was necessary to prevent a breakdown of the beef market and enormous costs for public intervention."

The decision in detail:

1. Duration

The so-called "purchase for destruction scheme " applies from 1 January 2001 until 30 June 2001.

2. Price paid to beef producers

Under the scheme, beef producers or their agents will receive compensation for the cattle which has to be destroyed. This price will be paid by the Member State. It will be calculated on the basis of

-the weight of the carcass

-the price of the deadweight fixed by the Member State taking into account the current market price for the meat classes and categories in the Member State concerned. However, the price shall be fixed at a level which guarantees the proper functioning of the destruction scheme.

Those Member States which have generalised BSE-testing already in place may be authorised by the Commission to apply the destruction scheme also for negatively tested bovine animals. Germany today was authorised to do so.

3. The costs

The EU will contribute 70% to the purchase of the animals, with the remaining 30% financed by the Member States. In addition, Member States have to pay for the storage and destruction of the cattle. The costs of BSE-testing for animals released for human consumption will be co-funded up to a maximum of 15 euros per kit. The rate for testing risk animals remains 30 euros per kit until end June 2001.

The overall expenditure incurred for the 2001 agriculture expenditure budget (EAGGF, heading 1a) will depend on the number of tests applied by the Member States, the evolution of prices on the beef market and how many animals beef producers want to send to slaughter and destruction. According to Commission estimates, 100,000 tonnes of beef withdrawn under the "purchase for destruction " scheme would cost the EU budget 140 million euros.

4. Ensuring proper implementation

To ensure that the carcasses are not used for human food, for animal feed or for medical products, the carcasses have to be stained and then stored separately. The Member States have to carry out the necessary checks that all relevant products have actually been destroyed. In addition, Commission inspectors will undertake spot-checks to verify compliance with the Regulation.

5. Exceptions

As decided in the Council, Finland, Austria and Sweden, the EU countries with a low BSE-risk, may allow the slaughtering of cattle over 30 months old for human consumption without BSE-testing for their NATIONAL market, if they wish to do so. This meat has to be marked with a special national stamp. - Only tested meat can be exported carrying the normal oval EU-stamp.

The «purchase for destruction scheme» does not apply to the United Kingdom which already has an EU co-funded Over-Thirty-Month-Scheme in place, under which all slaughtered animals over 30 month sold have to be destroyed.

Released on 14/12/2000

Annex

Purchase for destruction scheme

Maximum EU financing (70%) per animal in euros

 

COWS

HEIFERS

STEERS

Belgium

544

727

-

Denmark

363

444

-

Germany

364

442

-

Greece

292

520

-

Spain

280

536

-

France

472

674

713

Ireland

285

421

543

Italy

294

561

-

Luxembourg

553

593

698

Netherlands

418

385

-

Austria

393

501

644

Portugal

281

543

-

Finland

272

306

-

Sweden

384

402

510

Bulls offered under the scheme will be EU-financed with the rate of cows. For Member States without amount for steers, the rate for heifers will apply.

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1 The Management Committee comprises Member State representatives and is chaired by the European Commission

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