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Coronavirus: New measures for animal breeders after kosher slaughter plan mothballed

Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis

The government will announce new measures to help struggling animal breeders on Wednesday because it can no longer push ahead with original plans to introduce kosher slaughter to allow exports to Israel, the agriculture minister said on Wednesday.

Costas Kadis explained that kosher slaughter was a complicated procedure which if enacted incorrectly would have left Cyprus liable for EU fines for exports of kosher meat.

“So, instead of going with a hypothetical measure for future support of questionable effectiveness which could bring sanctions on Cyprus, we will go to an immediate and targeted way of supporting of sheep and goat breeders,” the minister told state broadcaster CyBC.

He gave no details of what these new measures would be.

Government on Friday recalled the bill amending the law to allow the temporary slaughter of animals without anesthesia, and the introduction of kosher slaughter methods.

“The bill was tabled in a bid to help farmers and especially animal breeders tackle the coronavirus consequences due to to low demand and excessive number of sheep and goats at the farms,” the minister said.

The bill, which Kadis admitted that it was prepared within a few hours, provided that kosher slaughter would be allowed until the end of this year only. Kadis said it was thought to be a temporary and immediate measure to support animal breeders.

Along the way, however, the government, that wanted to have the bill passed by parliament even before Easter if possible, found out that there was no possibility for immediate exports to Israel.

According to Kadis, Israel’s chief rabbi has to inspect the premises that will be carrying out kosher slaughter before any licences are given, but also the Israeli health and veterinary services.

“It emerged that it was not an easy or simple procedure and that it might not bear fruit because it takes a lot of time, so it was not an immediate measure,” Kadis said.

He added that another reason was that EU regulations allow kosher slaughter only to satisfy the religious needs of member states’ residents and not for exports.

Exports could land Cyprus in trouble with the EU, the minister said. “Possible sanctions would be much larger than any financial benefit,” he said.

Kadis said that the government has received guidelines from the EU on ways to support the sheep and goat breeders through the redistribution of funds. These measures will be announced on Wednesday for approval by cabinet, Kadis said.

Farmers, animal breeders and the Jewish community in Cyprus had been in favour of the introduction of kosher slaughter.

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