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Coveney Welcomes Increase in BSE Testing Age for Beef Exports to Russia

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today welcomed news that the Russian Federation and Customs Union have agreed to increase the minimum age for BSE testing for cattle slaughtered for human consumption from 48 to 72 months with effect from 6th July 2011.

Commenting on this development, the Minister confirmed that the BSE testing requirements for beef exports to the Russian Federation/Customs Union were now the same as those that apply within the EU, following an EU decision to increase the age of testing for intra-community trade to 72 months with effect from 1st July 2011.

Underlining the importance of the Russian Federation as a key third country market for Irish beef, Minister Coveney said "this decision should help our beef exporters significantly by removing a technical barrier to the export of beef from Ireland to Russia and will reduce the cost as well as the administrative and technical burden associated with such exports".

The Minister explained that this very positive news stemmed from detailed technical negotiations between veterinary experts from the Customs Union Member States (Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus) and the European Union in May of this year.

In order to ensure uninterrupted trade, the Russian Federation/Customs Union is allowing a transitional period of 4 months from 6 July 2011, during which time both the old and the new versions of the certificates can be used. The Minister pointed out that "the decision to increase the age of testing reflects the steep decline in the incidence of BSE which we have witnessed in Ireland and the EU in recent years, demonstrating the effectiveness of the controls which have been deployed over many years in order to combat the disease."

The Minister added that there were a number of other third countries that were still applying BSE testing regimes which were more stringent than 72 months and that he and his officials would continue to petition these countries to bring their testing regimes into line with those of the EU.  He concluded by reiterating his commitment to ensuring that Irish food companies had access to as many global markets as possible, with as few obstacles as possible in their path.

Date Released: 08 July 2011