Wednesday night's decision by the European Commission for a limited lifting of the ban on British beef marks a recognition of the UK's success in the fight against foot and mouth disease, says the NFU.

Europe's Standing Veterinary Committee voted yesterday to lift the ban on beef from counties that have never had the disease.

The beef still has to be processed under the Date Based Export Scheme, part of the UK's BSE controls. This means there will still be no exports from England and Wales because of the location of the current DBES facilities.

But NFU Deputy President Tim Bennett said: "Any progress - whether large or small - to get exports going again has got to be a good thing.

"The main impact of this decision will be to boost morale. It shows there is a light at end of tunnel - and that light is slowly but surely starting to get a little brighter. "

The Standing Veterinary Committee also voted to extend the list of eligible disease-free counties from which pigmeat can be exported. The decisions will now have to be formally approved by the College of Commissioners in the next few days.

Mr Bennett added: "Last night's vote shows that the Commission, the vets and the scientists are responding properly to the changing disease situation in the UK.

"We know we are not out of the woods yet but we have had no outbreaks for almost a month. This success in fighting the disease has been recognised by Europe.

"We now have to maximise efforts to restore cattle exports from all parts of the UK and ensure that the veterinary and scientific evidence justifies the resumption of sheep exports."

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©