NFU President Ben Gill will tomorrow provide a full account of the desperate situation of British farmers as the foot and mouth nightmare unfolds to farming representatives from across Europe in Brussels.

He will also take questions at the EU's headquarters at a meeting of the European Commission's Advisory Committee on the Common Agricultural Policy chaired by Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler.

Before the meeting, Mr Gill said he would also be calling on the Committee to reject the seven-point package of measures proposed by the Commission to reduce beef production because of BSE in mainland Europe.

The proposal failed to win support from member states when it was put before the Commission's Council of Ministers on Monday.

Ben Gill will be representing the NFU and farmers from across Europe in his position as vice president of COPA*.

He said: "The Commission proposal fails to address the key issue of restoring consumer confidence in the market.

"This short-sighted approach will be costly to both the Commission and to farmers and the beef industry in Europe. A new way has to be found."

The NFU has campaigned against the proposals since they were unveiled. It says it is vitally important that the Commission proposals ensure BSE free non-tested animals over 30 months of age are removed from the food chain in Europe, as in Britain, and that EU-wide SRM controls are correctly enforced in all member states.

Mr Gill said: "In their current form the proposals will devastate Britain's beef industry and its mammoth efforts to re-build itself following the BSE crisis.

"If these proposals are introduced, particularly at a time when the beef industry is reeling from the current outbreak of foot and mouth, I fear the Commission will be directly responsible for driving even more producers to the wall."

Notes to editors

*COPA (Committee of Agricultural Organisations in the EU) represents European farm organisations for agriculture and horticulture in the EU.

Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this document, the NFU cannot accept liability for errors and omissions.  This information should not be regarded as constituting legal advice, and should therefore not be relied upon as such.  NFU©

just-food.com published a feature on foot and mouth. To read it, click here.