Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Don't Forget your Toothbrush.

An update on the EU / Russian trade agreement.

The chap manning the telephone advice hotline in the cyberspace between Defra and the DTI, appeared unaware of the potential 'cascade' implications that any trade ban instituted by the EU, to protect their 1 billion euro export trade with Russia, may have on UK exports covered by the our (predictable, appalling and avoidable) bovine Tb status.
For almost 2 years the Russians have been rumbling, but we've imported their shaving brushes (are they Tb free?) , ratted on about pasteurisation and ignored their concerns.

When asked to give details of the range of 'animal products' covered by the new (as yet unavailable) veterinary certificates which came into being Oct 1st., and were described by the EU press release as an 'export opportunity', our man went to get advice from his superior.

Would any ban (if implemented) apply just to cheese, butter, skim etc.?
As we only exported 50 tonnes of butter to Russia in 2003, no big deal he said.
But the new agreement follows the chain of goods through other Member States, so what effect would that have ?

He didn't know.

Like the Beef Ban, (from which we are still suffering) which ended up banning not just a sirloin of beef, but wine gums and soap, blood products and cosmetics, would this vague term 'animal products' cascade downwards through caseine, lactose and whey powder, involving food manufacturers and medicines?

He didn't know, but was beginning to get the picture......

It is our understanding that our man went and had a talk with the Tb strategy team at Defra.
And a telephone call was made to the Commission, who declined to give specific answers to these points - over the telephone!

A representative 'spokes-person' was invited to discuss the implications of this 'EU export opportunity' where "there will be winners" (and by definition therefore, losers?) - face to face.


We hope he had time to pack his toothbrush.

Please note below in Comments some questions he took with him to (belatedly) ask the Commission.

To be continued........
(When we have the answers!)


Anonymous said...

These are the questions asked of defra regarding exports to russia
1)What is the definition of milk products, clearly it means butter cheese but how far does it go does it include products such as chocolate, or the use of Milk Protein Concentrate, lactose products containing whey powder etc? Your answer also states food products many food products contain milk products as well how do you see the effect of this?
2)We have about 4000 farms at present under TB restriction and if the farms have to have been free of TB for the last 12 months then the number of farms unable to meet the requirements will be much higher. DEFRA has already stated that they expect a 20% increase in Bovine TB year on year over the next few years. What are your views on tsuch an increase? At present to my knowledge only one company is picking up milk from farms under restriction separately and they are complaining about the extra cost. So we could see a two tier market for milk from TB restricted farms this could have very serious financial effects on those farmers so restricted will their be any additional compensation for farmers that are effected?.
3)What happens when a farm is placed under restrictions following a test because the milk supplied the day before will not have been TB free will all products that milk has or may have gone into (given the bulking up of milk at the dairies) have to be banned from export both to Russia and the EU?
4)You say that Russia will now allow final product export from other EU countries this is the area which concerns me most as we export a fairly large amount of milk and milk products in this way. As I see it given our increasing level of TB it would be risky for those using our exports to continue to do so if they wish to export to Russia. Do you think that this is a risk? Especially in relation to my next question.
5)I see from the commission press release on this (IP/04/1060 dated 2/9/04) that the EU has agreed with the Russians on "regionlisation" so that a disease problem in one or a part of a member state will not block exports from the whole of that member state or from the rest of the EU. Given our high level of Bovine TB in the UK is there not a danger that we may be blocked from exporting milk and milk products to other member states in order to protect their exports? this could also apply to beef and beef products as well because Bovine TB is not confined to just dairy herds but effects all cattle.
6)We will also have great difficultly in certifying herds free of Paratuberculosis as we do not test or have any national programme to tackle this disease which is a problem in certain areas of the UK . What is your thinking on this and how are we to tackle being able to certify being free of a disease we don't test for but do have?
7)While I accept your saying that the producers of speciality products to know where their milk comes from what happens if one of their suppliers goes down with TB with regard to their already in the supply chain products as in question 3 above?
8)What is being done to inform those who will be most effected by this the dairy companies, speciality product producers and farmers I am very concerned by the level of information being supplied?
9)The EU has just agreed that milk and milk products from three Russian dairies can be imported into the EU, PJSC Lianozovo Dairy, Altayholod Ltd and PJSC Lipetskiy Hladokombinat I trust they to have to meet the same requirements with TB and the other diseases as we do to export to Russia and if not, why not?
10)Do these requirements also cover cattle semen exports?

Matthew said...

Thanks for those questions.
Methinks our DTI mandarins just looked at 50tonnes of butter to Russia in 2003 - and forgot the rest.
The principle of regionalisation was established to protect the Community trading block with BSE, and it would appear from the Europa press release 2nd. Sept - totally missed by our lot - that this could happen again.

Whatever Europe delivers in our Ben's Christmas stocking,for use from Jan 1st 2005, the emporer is going to need new clothes.
You can't hide behind John Bourne's pseudo-scientific skirts any longer Ben - everyone can see through them but you.

Or are you planning to import Russian milk here to fill the gap?