22 April 1998
Calf Processing Aid Scheme
must be axed — report
By Boyd Champness
BRITAIN wont have enough cows to meet demand once the beef export ban is eventually lifted, unless Government abandons the Calf Processing Aid Scheme (CPAS) immediately, according to a report.
The Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers (FFMW) released its UK beef strategy paper this week, warning that there will be a shortage of home-grown beef by 2000 unless something is done.
Richard Cracknell, president, said the CPAS is expected to conclude in November this year, but could continue until 2000 unless there is a significant improvement in EU beef market balance.
Mr Cracknell said the policy discriminates against the UK, with 60% of the calves disposed of under the scheme coming from Britain. The CPAS continues to remove over 600,000 British calves from the food chain each year. In 1997, the scheme took 150,000 more calves out of production than the UK would ever have hoped to export as live calves.
“We want the Government to drop the scheme today and allow those calves to enter the manufacturing sector. We feel beef producers, rearers and finishers have really been neglected,” Mr Cracknell said.
Under the CPAS, farmers receive a flat rate of £80.01 per calf, regardless of whether its a heavier beef calf or a lighter dairy calf. The FFMW suggests that beef producers would currently receive about £100 per premium calf if the scheme was abolished.
The paper says beef cross calves should be excluded from the CPAS. In 1997, about 60,000 beef cross calves were lost from production. It also calls for a cut in the rate of compensation to encourage farmers to hold on to their calves.
But ultimately, the FFMW would like to see the CPAS replaced with the Early Marketing Scheme. It argues that the EMS would better suit the UKs industry by ensuring the vast majority of UK beef calves were reared to their mature beef weight, providing abattoirs with the raw materials they require.
It would also like to see other member states share the burden of reducing EU production, and not just the UK.
Interestingly, Mr Cracknell said farmers were misguided in their criticism of the major supermarket chains. He said he believed comments made by Terry Leahy, Tesco chief executive, that no one is making any money out of the beef industry.
Mr Cracknell said farmers were looking for scapegoats because their livelihoods were at stake, and that supermarkets provided an easy target. He said farmers needed to remember that supermarkets have done a terrific job marketing British beef over the past two years in light of the BSE crisis.