By FWi staff

BEEF marketing could be adversely effected by new legislation removing the 90-head limit on beef special premium payments, trade sources warn.

Since 01 January, applications for BSP claims are only limited by forage area, and sources suggest that beef producers may have lodged the majority of their claims already, to boost incomes.

Some abattoirs have already warned of a shortage of male cattle, although one insider said other factors could also be at fault, such as bad weather and the short marketing week after Christmas.

However, it appears that a doubling in slaughter premium payments and the lifting of the 90-head limit have encouraged producers to make claims early in the year.

But cattle subject to BSP claims fall into a two-month retention period, which could distort marketing patterns.

One source told FARMERS WEEKLY this may result in a glut of male cattle being sold in spring when the retention period ends.

This could have a negative impact on the market and lead to a shortfall in male cattle in the meantime.

Producers are also warned that while they can lodge more than 90 BSP claims now, cattle subject to retention have to be fed and watered during this time, which will not be without cost.

Neither will making all claims now speed up subsidy payments as these are made in October regardless.

According to the rules, it is possible to stake 12 separate claims during the year for first- and second-claim BSP payments, and staggering claims may be more beneficial, said the source.