UK Heads of Sheep and Goats Order 1996
'Tax meat-eaters' to boost grain supplies
Cattle cull creates storage problem
Chanting farmers jostle minister in BSE protest
Farmers leaders back food agency
Hogg jostled by angry farmers at dairy show
Consumer champion aims to revive role
Groupe Chez Gerard and the Carnivore Club



UK Heads of Sheep and Goats Order 1996

UK Government

Legislation ... 3 September 1996

An Order preventing the heads of sheep and goats going into the food chain will come into force on Sunday, 15 September 1996. The Heads of Sheep and Goats Order 1996 will make it an offence to sell any part of sheep or goat heads for human consumption. This is a precautionary measure based on the advice of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) which was announced on 24th July 1996. Over ninety nine per cent of heads are already destroyed and do not go into the food chain.

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Notes for Editors

1. The Order will be made under the Animal Health Act 1981. It prohibits the sale for human consumption of any part of a head of a sheep or goat, and of food containing any part of such heads. It also prohibits the sale of any part of such heads for use in the preparation of food for human consumption, and the use of any part of such heads in the preparation of food for human consumption.

2. The heads are required to be removed immediately after slaughter and stained with the dye Patent Blue (E131, 1971 Colour Index No. 42051). Removed heads must be consigned to approved premises and disposed of as if they were specified bovine material by rendering and incineration.



Cattle cull creates storage problem

By David Brown, Agriculture Editor

Daily Telegraph ... Wednesday 2 October 1996

So many dead cows are piling up under the Government's emergency measures to resolve the beef crisis that ministers are having to hire convoys of mobile freezer lorries to move them around the country.

Up to 500 freezer containers will be needed to hold about 25,000 dead cattle at any one time until rendering plants can be found to destroy them. Each articulated container holds about 50 cows.

The plan is to gather as many containers as possible in "secure parking areas" and attach them to the mains to keep the freezer units going, according to one senior Government official.

Trials involving up to 50 freezer containers have already started around Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and Bridlington, East Yorks.

In addition, as the backlog of cattle more than 30 months old awaiting slaughter mounts up on farms, the Government is close to signing a deal to charter two freezer ships to hold 15,000 tons of beef until this, too, can be incinerated.

These ships are expected to be used to hold carcasses from Northern Ireland.

So far, more than 560,000 cattle have been slaughtered under the cull of cattle more than 30 months old scheme designed to restore consumer confidence in beef by removing all older animals from the food chain.

But 43,000 carcasses are stockpiled awaiting destruction in rendering plants that have been working flat-out in a vain attempt to meet demand.

Now storage space on land is running out, even though the Government is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds converting grain stores in former aircraft hangers into huge freezers.

Ministers thought they were faced with a backlog of 170,000 animals awaiting slaughter on farms - but the true figure is nearer 400,000. The limits of the rendering plants and the shortage of temporary storage space for the dead cattle threaten the Government's plans to wipe out the backlog by more than doubling the current slaughter rate from about 25,000 to 55,000 cattle a week.

Nearly 85 per cent of dairy farmers want to go ahead as soon as possible with the selective cattle cull halted by the Government a fortnight ago, according to a survey published by the Royal Association of Dairy Farmers yesterday.


Groupe Chez Gerard puts expansion on the menu

By Andrew Clark

Daily Telegraph ... Tuesday 1 October 1996

Groupe Chez Gerard, the exclusive restaurant group, yesterday served up a 23pc increase in full-year, pre-tax profits to £2.86m. The group has nine London restaurants so far and is to open another City outlet in the spring.

Refurbishment at three restaurants, plus preparation for the new opening, has pushed capital expenditure over £4m this year, which has been funded without recourse to borrowing.

Chairman Neville Abraham said the group was eyeing provincial cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds for further outlets, as well as expanding further through London.

Mr Abraham and his co-founder Laurence Isaacson predicted turnover, currently £16.4m, would reach £19m by next year, claiming: "We are the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh of the restaurant business - we've got nine successful shows running in the West End."

Faced with the mad cow disease scare, the group adopted an aggressive marketing strategy, pushing its "Carnivores' Club" for steak and chips connoisseurs. Mr Abraham said the club had been a success and no one had cancelled through fear of BSE.

The company says it caters for the Sinky and Dinky - single and dual income customers with no kids yet. By avoiding the family market, it claims to be less vulnerable to recession and falls in consumer spending.

A 0.9p final dividend on November 18, lifts the total from 2.4p to 2.8p. The shares rose 6 to 242.5p.


'Tax meat-eaters' to boost grain supplies

By Alison Maitland in London

Financial Times ... Tuesday October 1 1996

A tax on eating meat has been proposed by a leading US environmentalist as a way of releasing urgently needed grain supplies for direct human consumption.

The controversial proposal, in a new book by the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, is one of several radical ideas for resolving what is portrayed as an imminent crisis in world food supplies as the population burgeons.

The book, Tough Choices, is the institute's contribution to the United Nations World Food Summit in Rome in November.

Mr Lester Brown, the author and president of the institute, says world grain stocks may continue to be dangerously low for some time. The only remaining big reserve is the 640m tonnes - or 36 per cent of the world grain harvest - which is used as feed for livestock, poultry and fish.

"If the world's affluent cut their consumption of grain-fed livestock products by 10 per cent, they could free up 64m tonnes of grain for direct human consumption, enough to cover world population growth for some 27 months," says Mr Brown.

A tax, he argues, would moderate grain price rises which can be life-threatening for the world's poor.

"Such a tax, unpopular though it would be, might be accepted if it became the price for economic and political stability in the world."

Mr Brown's views are based on a prediction that the world is entering an era of food shortages, as environmental problems such as water and land shortages and global warming put severe constraints on agricultural output.

He is known as a pessimist in the world food debate; others argue that food production will keep abreast of population growth in most regions over the next 25 years.

Mr Brown clashes with the World Bank and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, contending that their predictions of continued growth in grain output have proved too optimistic in the past five years.

Mr Nikos Alexandratos, head of global perspective studies at the FAO, responds that production was disrupted by the break-up of the former Soviet Union, volatile output in the US and set-aside policies in the European Union. But these factors do not detract from FAO expectations of "modest" output growth of 1.5 per cent a year to 2010, he said.

Among Mr Brown's other suggestions is a "stiff" tax on converting land out of crops. "This would at least force those planning to use highly productive cropland for industrial or residential construction to weigh alternative sites seriously."



Chanting farmers jostle minister in BSE protest

By David Brown, Agriculture Editor

Daily Telegraph ... Thursday 3 October 1996

Hundreds of angry farmers jostled Douglas Hogg, the Minister of Agriculture, yesterday in a protest against the handling of the beef crisis.

More than 200 beef producers chanting "Oggy, oggy, oggy - out, out, out" vented their frustration about delays in the Government's cattle cull and cuts in their compensation.

At one stage the banner-waving crowd at the South West Dairy Show in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, threatened to overwhelm Mr Hogg and his escort of ministry and show officials. Police threw a cordon around Mr Hogg as one of the farmers fell during the melee.

Some producers accused the minister of "arrogance" and called for his resignation for refusing to address the crowd after meeting representatives of the National Farmers' Union and the Country Landowners' Association for an update on the BSE crisis in the West Country. Last week farmers accused the Government of "betrayal" for a 10 per cent cut in compensation for cattle killed under the cull. It means that farmers expecting £500 a cow will now receive £50 less.

The cut comes as the backlog of cattle builds up on farms. The backlog is about 450,000 - more than twice the Government estimated number.

So many cattle are awaiting destruction that the Government is running out of cold stores to hold the carcases until they can be destroyed. Ministers plan to hire fleets of refrigerated container-lorries and two freezer-ships to cope.

Anthony Gibson, a senior farming official at the meeting, said farmers had put various points to Mr Hogg who had nothing to offer in reply.

"The cut in the compensation added insult to incompetence," he said. "The scheme hasn't worked properly. There was fury in the air at the show and I have not seen anything like it in 20 years with the NFU.

"Most of the farmers here would be lifelong Conservative voters and not the sort of people you would expect to see marching up and down with banners and jostling a minister of the Crown.

"He declined our suggestion that he should address the crowd of farmers outside to defuse the situation. As a result there was some jostling and unpleasant scenes when he emerged with his police escort."

Mr Gibson said the minister did not explain why he did not want to speak to the farmers. "It made things worse and added to the frustration."

A ministry spokesman said last night: "Mr Hogg was not assaulted during his visit during which he met farmers' representatives."


Farmers leaders back food agency

By David Brown, Agriculture Editor

Daily Telegraph ... Thursday 3 October 1996

Labour won the support of farmers' leaders yesterday for the establishment of an independent agency to protect consumer confidence in food.

After many years of defending the role of the Ministry of Agriculture, which is responsible for food policy, the National Farmers' Union of England and Wales said that the beef crisis had forced it to review its position.

Sir David Naish, president of the NFU, told a farmers' fringe meeting in Blackpool: "The NFU is looking afresh at the concept of a food agency - in particular how any such body could work effectively to balance the interests of consumer and producer while being accountable, independent and cost effective."

The BSE crisis had led to demands for an agency independent of MAFF and the NFU was now willing to discuss this with "interested parties," Sir David added.

Dr Gavin Strang, the shadow minister of agriculture, welcomed the shift in the NFU position. He said: "The sooner we reach a consensus to enable us to reassure the public about food safety the better."


Hogg jostled by angry farmers at dairy show

by Michael Hornsby, Agriculture Correspondent

The Times ... October 03 1996

Douglas Hogg, the Agriculture Minister, was jostled and jeered by 500 farmers at a dairy show yesterday in a demonstration of anger at the Government's handling of "mad cow" disease.

Police and stewards had to surround Mr Hogg to prevent him from being manhandled as placard-waving farmers surged foward chanting "Hoggy, Hoggy, Hoggy, out, out, out". Several protesters were knocked to the ground in the melée. One witness said: "I don't know what they would have done if they had got hold of him."

Mr Hogg was guest of honour at the South West Dairy Show at the Royal Bath and West Showground at Shepton Mallet, Somerset. Anger erupted when some farmers could not get into a packed meeting of the minister, members of the National Farmers' Union and the Country Landowners' Association.

Anthony Gibson, the NFU's regional director, said: "The mood was turning nasty and I suggested to Mr Hogg that he should go out on the balcony of the auditorium and speak to the farmers outside. But he refused and this made matters worse."

After a loudspeaker appeal for calm, Mr Hogg, looking shaken, was led to the main ring to present cattle prizes as farmers crowded round him. He left 15 minutes later.

Feelings are running high after a decision last week by the European Union, at the Government's request, to cut 10 per cent from the compensation paid to farmers for culled cattle.

There is discontent among farmers over the high number of old cattle still awaiting slaughter under the cull scheme set up after fears emerged that the human disease CJD was linked to BSE.

* British fishermen are breaking EU conservation rules on a huge scale, according to a report by a respected industry pressure group.

The study estimates that 40 per cent of the catch landed by Scottish trawlermen is in breach of limits on the type, quantity and size of fish that can legally be brought ashore. It says that illicit catches are landed in remote parts. In major ports they are loaded on lorries at night.

The widespread cheating is alleged in a report by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, a body that embraces industrialists, trade unionists and politicians that seeks to promote Scotland's prosperity. It blames "absurd" EU regulations rather than the fishermen.


Consumer champion aims to revive role

by Robin Young

The Times ... October 03 1996

The Consumers' Association is seeking to revitalise its role as a campaigning political pressure group.

The organisation, which publishes the Which? group of magazines and has almost 750,000 members, is doing the rounds of the party conferences touting a manifesto called Making Markets Work, which catalogues the reforms the association would like the next government to initiate.

Stephen Harris, director of communications, said yesterday: "We are trying to get back to the role CA had in the 1970s. During the 1980s consumerism became confused with consumption. Legitimate consumer concerns were pushed aside while attention focused on how much money people had and how much they were spending. We still see that with all the talk about the 'feel-good' factor."

Mr Harris said the present Government clearly attached high value to the interests of industry and other producers. "They attach very low value to consumer interests. The deregulation initiative is a much clearer indication where this Government is coming from than the Citizen's Charter," he said. "If consumers had even an equal footing with producers in the Government's consideration there would not have been the terrible mess in the Government's reactions to the BSE crisis," he claimed.

Mr Harris said the association had identified six key areas. Campaign teams have been established in the fields of communications, health, including food, personal finance, public utilities, redress, and transport. "From now on we intend to punch our weight," Mr Harris said.

* A call for higher standards among professional bodies involved in drafting wills was made by the Consumers' Association after a survey found that more than a quarter were incorrect or confusing.

In a survey of 51 wills, reported in Which?, a panel of legal experts rated 15 as "poor", 24 were "average" and only 12 were "good".