CAP reform may not solve beefs problems

By FWi staff

A NEW deal to overhaul Europes farm policy may still fail to resolve the structural problems in the beef sector.

Delegates at the Agenda 2000 – will the CAP fit conference yesterday, organised by the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) were told that EU governments will be obliged to pay the so-called “national envelope” of the reforms.

Many had feared that the national envelopes would be optional.

Speakers from different sectors of the industry indicated that the EU meat market is likely to remain well supplied with livestock over the next few years.

Total EU meat consumption – which has continued to increase during the 1990s – is likely to continue to rise, but at a lower rate, during the next few years.

Consumption of lamb will be relatively stable in the near future, although production could decline slightly.

While this could mean an increase in sheepmeat imports, there is also the potential to increase the UK share of the overall EU market.

The pig sector will not be directly affected by Agenda 2000, although it could be directly influenced through the 15% cuts in cereal prices, leading to lower break-even levels for producers.

Both production and consumption are likely to follow a cyclical pattern, but there would be the opportunity for growth in the EU as a whole, and for the EU to export to third-country markets.

“The reduction in support prices will bring us closer to world price levels,” said MLC corporate strategy director, Bob Bansback.

“And the way surplus produce will be taken off the market will mean a major change from the intervention system,” he added.

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