By FWi staff

BEEF intervention has been opened throughout the EU for the first time in almost two years, as Brussels tries to support the beleaguered market.

In response to industry pressure, the commission has also agreed to raise the weight limits for eligible carcasses.

As such, the first two tenders will accept bulls and steers up to 430kg dw, compared with the current limit of 340kg.

Thereafter, the maximum weight will drop to 380kg In addition, O grade cattle will now be eligible, as well as Us and Rs.

But doubts remain about how effective the measure will be in supporting markets, which have crashed by over 20% since the crisis started in mid-October.

As far as the UK is concerned, no tenders are expected.

“Even though prices have slipped, they are still above intervention trigger levels,” said a Meat and Livestock Commission spokeswoman.

Intervention will be open until the end of March, and the commission is also introducing a “lightweight” scheme for steers.

The commission has also agreed a “purchase for destruction” scheme for over 30-month cattle which have not been tested for BSE.

This will run for six months from 01 January, 2001.

A table in the draft regulation, based on market prices during November, suggests French producers will get about 400 a cow and 600 a steer.

This compares with just 269 a cow and 302 a steer for 560kg animals under the existing OTMS in the UK.

Prices will be assessed each week, with Brussels paying 70%.

farmersfield.co.uk