NBA seeks to allay farmer fears about the end of OTMS

THE BEEF sector cannot move into the long hoped for post-BSE era until the OTM Rule is changed and export restrictions lifted, says the National Beef Association.

The National Beef Association has termed the OTM rule and the ban on exports which were introduced in March 1996 as the “ball and chain” that has been holding back the industry.

“Each of these calamitous trading limitations has tied down beef sector incomes and forced the industry into an entrepreneurial strait jacket so as far as the NBA is concerned they cannot disappear quickly enough”, explained NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.

The NBA is confident that the changes to the regulations will deliver a “useful lift in the value of cull cows born after August 1996” beginning sometime around November 1.

Mr Burrell is confident that the lifting of the OTM rule will be followed shortly afterwards by the ending of the Date Based Export Scheme bringing about the first open sales of UK beef into EU markets before the end of the year.

“We cannot understand the voices that are calling for each of these to be delayed,” said Mr Burrell.

“Now that feeders and breeders are being hit with the income realities forced on them by the withdrawal of headage based subsidy it is imperative that more price competition is quickly injected into the slaughter cattle market.”

“One of the triggers will be the introduction of new export buyers to challenge the nine year dominance of the supermarkets and the giant burger manufacturers but the DBES will not be scrapped until the OTM rule is changed.”

According to the NBA some farmers are more nervous about the reappearance of cows on the market than operators in the slaughter sector.

“Abattoirs will be fighting each other to make sure they are ready, on day one, to put this beef back on the market,” said Mr Burrell.

“If well bred, well finished, post-August 1996 cows are made available for them they will be wanted. Good quality animals are expected to make significantly more than the OTMS surrender price of 89p/kilo and the very best will enjoy a premium on top of that.”

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