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At least mutton buyers can look forward to favourable prices from May 14 when the bureaucratic brakes come off the ewe market, whereas beef processors and retailers face some risk of scarcer high quality supplies under a more complex new cattle subsidy regime beginning on May 15.

That date is the deadline for filing IACS Area Aid Applications, requiring precise descriptions of each field. Beef buyers will be affected indirectly, because rigorous enforcement of cattle stocking density limits defined by these measurements is sure to alter the numbers, breeds, finished weights and conformations of beasts available on the commercial market.

MLC's analyst Duncan Sinclair has predicted the eventual consequence will be tighter supply of top quality cattle, and Robert Forster of the National Beef Association suggests a similar outcome using slightly different reasoning.

But some experts see more secure supply as producer income protection is shifted from output price support (through intervention and import levies) to environmental aid.
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Date:May 6, 2000
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