5 July 2002

Beware of suckler cow quota levels

BEEF farmers should be wary of purchasing suckler cow quota at current levels, warns the National Beef Association.

At the Royal Show this week, NBA chief executive Robert Forster told farmers weekly that producers should be careful of moving their beef business to a heifer finishing enterprise, which is supplemented by suckler cow subsidy.

He said there was a "strong possibility" the EU commission would aim for an area-based support system from 2004. This would use historical stocking levels and cow quota to calculate beef support.

"Franz Fischler would like to switch to area-based payments as part of the mid-term review, so quota could be withdrawn," said Mr Forster. Producers should factor this possibility into prices when buying quota at current values, he added.

At the show, quota agent Ian Potter Associates had suckler cow quota trading at £300 for GB lowland and £78 for leasing. English less favoured area was valued at £270 for purchase.

However, a spokeswoman said few quota deals had been traded so far. &#42