1 October 1999

Date fear over beef support

SCOTTISH meat wholesalers are highly nervous about the effect that New Year subsidy payment changes will have on prime beef supplies for Christmas and millennium celebrations.

From Jan 1, prime beef cattle will qualify for a slaughter premium of about £18/head. It is expected that all male cattle will qualify for the beef special premium from Jan 1. The second payment is due to rise from £75 to £86 at the turn of the year.

Wholesalers fear the double incentive will be enough to make producers hold stock during November and December.

But the extra feeding costs and negative cash flow associated with that and the lower market prices at the start of the year could outweigh the benefits, said the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers president Alan Kirkwood.

"We will be looking for substantial supplies of quality stock in November and December. But we will not be as interested in volume supplies once the millennium feast is over." &#42