EU Ministers Debate Farm Crisis

Farm ministers will try to get a grip on foot-and-mouth disease and the continuing BSE scare, which have plunged Europe’s agriculture into crisis

European Union farm ministers will try on 19 and 20 March 2001 to get a grip on foot-and-mouth disease and the continuing BSE scare, which have plunged Europe's agriculture into crisis.

British Agriculture Minister Nick Brown is expected to discuss his country's progress in controlling the spread of the highly infectious virus. Mr Brown will also inform EU ministers that Britain favours a mass slaughter to make sure the disease is eventually wiped out. Under the UK plan, thousands of healthy pigs and sheep living within 5 kilometres of infected farms in the hardest hit areas will be culled.

Holland, Belgium and Portugal are expected to press for the vaccination of herds at risk. In the past, farm ministers have argued that any immunisation scheme would be too expensive and cost Member States their current "foot-and-mouth-free" status in the world trade markets.

Besides the recent foot-and-mouth crisis, farm ministers will also examine further measures in tackling the ongoing BSE crisis. Ministers are expected to debate whether to impose a permanent ban on using animal protein in cattle feed. They will also discuss new measures to boost EU beef prices through a purchase scheme to remove older beef from the market.

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