§ Mr. Steen
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of the requirement to remove vertebral column from Over 30 Month cattle upon farmers rearing cattle in the West Country under the Beef Assurance Scheme; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Morley
[holding answer 24 February 2003]: The requirement that vertebral column be removed in licensed cutting plants has created difficulties for members of the Beef Assurance Scheme. I understand that two cutting plants in Devon and Cornwall which may be able to accommodate cattle reared under the scheme have now been licensed by the Food Standards Agency.