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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Rejects British Proposal For Reducing Cull of Cattle

BRUSSELS -- The European Union's pact for ending the beef crisis with Britain looked like it was unravelling Tuesday when EU countries rejected plans floated by London for reducing a cull of cattle most at risk from mad cow disease.

Britain's Douglas Hogg told other EU farm ministers that London was fulfilling an agreement to end the disease reached at a bloc summit in June but that new scientific data showed an extra cull agreed at the meeting was unnecessary.

Germany said it would not permit British beef, banned around the world over health fears from mad cow disease, to be sold there until the risk was gone.

Belgium suggested that if Britain did not stick to the agreement made at the summit in Florence for combating the disease the EU might stop funds it has promised to help farmers overcome the crisis.

EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler stressed the extra British cull was an essential part of the Florence agreement for a staged lifting of the ban. "This is a pre-condition before any specific steps can be taken [to lift the ban]," Fischler told a news conference after a two-day meeting of farm ministers.

Germany, driven by consumer fears over the disease -- bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE -- has taken the toughest stance against British beef.

"We will have to keep the borders shut against imports as long as there is any risk," German Secretary of State for Agriculture Franz-Josef Feiter told reporters.

For its part, Britain said its EU partners were not honoring their side of the Florence agreement, which was to work towards a step-by-step lifting of the ban on British beef exports.

Europe has been battling a crisis of confidence in beef since March when the British government said BSE could be transmitted to humans.