By FWi staff

THE reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreed last week will mean highly challenging times for the beef industry, claims the Meat and Livestock Commission.

The industry has been aware for some time that CAP had to be reformed, and that the industry and member states should to be able to compete more effectively in the marketplace, said MLC corporate strategy director, Bob Bansback.

“So it makes it essential for all parts of the chain to be working more closely together,” he said.

But despite the difficult financial crisis which the beef industry is still experiencing, Mr Bansback sounds a challenging and positive note on the years ahead for the industry.

He predicts that by 2005, the industry will be producing more beef for human consumption. However, a higher proportion is likely to go into catering and new processed products, as well as for export.

“But for this to happen there needs to be profitability in all sectors of the chain,” he said.

Consumption levels of beef in 1998 where nearly back to levels of 1995, and the British market share of that consumption was higher.

“But we have to acknowledge there will be major challenges and adjustments to make because of the discussions to reform the Common Agricultural Policy,” warned Mr Bansback.

Other influencing factors are the talks set to start later this year within the World Trade organisation, and the likelihood of the European Union being enlarged, he added.