EU tightens Nam beef exports requirements

Windhoek ‑ The European Union (EU) has tightened its already stringent requirements for Namibian beef exports to the bloc, the government announced this week.
The EU is a lucrative market for Namibia’s beef exports. Meatco, Namibia’s biggest meat producer, exports the beef through its EU approved abattoirs.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry informed the meat industry that the EU was introducing 40-day residency requirements with immediate effect.
According to the new regulations, EU-approved cattle and non-EU approved cattle may not come into contact for 40 days.
The farmers have been warned that should the cattle mix, the EU-approved animal will lose its status and will effectively become a non-EU approved animal.
Sakkie Coetzee, the executive manager of the Namibia Agriculture Union (NAU), said the new requirements have brought a lot of uncertainty among farmers.
Meat industry players were to meet this past week to address the uncertainties brought by the new requirements, Coetzee said.
The ministry said in its notice that the 40-day residency of cattle and sheep is a requirement for the eventual export of fresh, chilled or frozen beef and mutton to the EU.
“Individual cattle and the sheep flock should have been resident on the holding for a continuous period of at least 40 days and should not have been in contact with animals of a lesser status, before departure to the EU-approved slaughterhouse.
“The 40-day period starts from the last date of arrival of either cattle or sheep/goats of a lesser status onto the holding.
“The livestock keeper must have maintained a closed herd and there should have been no introduction of livestock from a holding of a lesser status in the last 40 days,” the agriculture ministry said.
Cattle for export to the EU are already expected to be on the Namibia Livestock Identification and Traceability System. A system created to track and trace animals to farms of origin.
Under this system, farmers register all their livestock on a database and they are all identified with approved identification marks.
The EU does not accept animals from Namibia’s northern regions because it says animal diseases are prevalent.
In its 2012 financial report, Meatco said it is facing a decline in slaughter volumes in the company’s facilities.
According to the report, in 2012 Meatco was only able to slaughter 102 260 cattle at abattoirs in southern regions and 18 014 cattle at its facilities located in the northern areas.
This decrease of approximately 7.1 percent, Meatco said, resulted from a multitude of factors including exporting of calves to South Africa, diversification by farmers towards alternative sources of income such as game farming and tourism as well as the impact of bush encroachment.
Meat Board of Namibia statistics show that although Namibia has an annual 13 000 tonne export quota to the EU, the country only delivers between 9 000 and 11 000 tonnes of meat to that market.
Namibia produces 28 000 tonnes of beef, which is exported to the EU, South Africa and Norway.

February 2013
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