This missed opportunity will cost British meat companies £16m in lost revenue
In May, England and Wales reached the magic milestone of 11 years without a new case of BSE. This opens up a new £16 million market for the sale of mesenteric fat (used in many industrial applications including cosmetics production) which has not been available to us for the past 24 years. It also puts them in an elite group of countries and regions around the world that are classified as having ‘negligible’ risk of BSE including Northern Ireland who are already reaping the benefits.
But Government have told us that applying for the required ‘Negligible Risk Status’ isn’t on their list of priorities, and they have not got the resources to make the application. This is extremely disappointing and a huge missed opportunity for the British meat industry.
To put this into perspective, that £16 million in extra revenue is roughly equivalent to the total potential value of lamb exports to the US that our trade negotiators are rightfully so excited about and fighting hard to secure. Being able to sell mesenteric fat instead of paying to dispose of it also reduces waste and improves the value of every animal.
In order to achieve ‘negligible risk’ status, Defra must present evidence to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) by July 31 this year so they can agree our new status at their General Session in May 2021. Missing that deadline will mean our next chance to present evidence is next July, with status eventually being granted in May 2022.
That’s a year wasted at a time when Britain should be taking every chance it can to expand trade in international markets.
We know that the epidemiologists and other resources needed to compile and submit this evidence have all been diverted to deal with the covid-19 crisis, but the 11 year milestone of being BSE free has not come out of the blue. Really, work should have been well under way back in December last year before the current crisis hit; and we should have been ready in May to submit our application to the OIE.
Just as we’re about to leave the EU we have missed a fantastic opportunity to signal to the global markets our high British standards. BMPA will be working with Government to make sure that doesn’t happen again.