Live cattle exports to the Continent may be banned after 12 British-reared calves sent to the Netherlands tested positive for bovine TB.

Dutch farmers have imposed their own commercial ban but, unofficially, Belgian farmers have also imposed a ban.

Kim Haywood, director of the National Beef Association, said: ‘People are very worried about possible loss of exports because we are just approaching the main three-month season for export of calves for veal production.

‘If this issue builds momentum in Europe, the consequences could be dire. This is all down to the Government’s inability to control bovine TB.’

The National Farmers’ Union is helping British officials in Brussels.

Calves infected with TB ere sent to the Netherlands in March to be fattened for veal. The British dairy farm was free of TB at that time but, during a routine test in May at least one infected cow was found.

Government vets, during the routine follow-up testing of all animals that had moved from the farm in the past 60 days, warned te Dutch authorities about the possibility of the presence of bovine TB.

Dutch authorities have now placed 27 Dutch farms under restriction pending further tests.

The Dutch Farmers’ Union says it should have been warned earlier about the presence of TB, and its members are now boycotting British cattle and calves.

Hilary Benn, Rural Affairs Secretary, last week rejected a badger cull to control the spread of boving TB.

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