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Agriculture Minister: Import of live breeding cattle to start

19 December 2006

TURKEY - Turkey is to ease restrictions on imports of meat as well as live breeding cattle, said Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister Mehdi Eker yesterday in a wide-ranging interview on agricultural policy with the Turkish Daily News and Referans, the national business daily.

“Imports are about to begin,” said Eker. “We have experts working right now completing the necessary studies with a variety of countries.”

Turkey's general ban on meat imports and serious restrictions on the imports of breeding cattle have been a bane in relations with the European Union has well as with consumers and investors seeking to improve meat production in Turkey. Originally imposed to prevent the spread of the so-called “foot and mouth disease” a decade ago, the ban continued in the wake of the outbreak of mad cow disease, or BSE, in British herds in 2000.

While European experts say those threats have been resolved, Turkey has continued the ban despite complaints that without access to high-yield breeding cattle, a turnaround in fast-declining local production is impossible. Traditionally, Turkey's east has been the source of most beef and lamb production, but political instability and migration from the region has dramatically cut production in recent years.

The result is that the quality of beef available in Turkey has suffered while prices have climbed to be among the highest in Europe. Initially, Turkey will allow the import of 19 million tons sought by the EU, Eker said.

The minister also said that imports of live cattle would increase opportunities for local producers, citing a group wishing to establish a new facility for 5,000 head of beef cattle and another hoping to open a facility for 10,000. He said various incentives would be established according to need and that generous incentives will be allocated based on the circumstances in each of Turkey's primary 24 agricultural basins.

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Source: Turkish Daily News



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