Forecasts prompt EU beef rethink

By FWi staff

THE EUs beef regime is likely to be subject to further reform, following a new seven-year market forecast predicting long-term falling demand and excessive stocks.

“The current imbalance in the EU beef market is likely to continue, and even deteriorate short term, with the creation of an internal surplus of up to 740,000t by 2003,” it says.

“This will improve in the medium term, but stocks are forecast to stabilise at around 240,000t.”

Faced with this “rather pessimistic outlook”, commission sources suggest further changes will be needed after 2003.

They insist the recently-agreed five-point plan, which cuts beef stocking rates and forces producers to include heifers in suckler cow premium claims for the next two years, is just an emergency measure.

Options for further reform could include moving beef support to a decoupled area basis.

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