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Wooler spotlight on British beef breeds; Argentinian beef selling at 30% discount at Smithfield. (Beef).

Key focus of the National Beef Association's Beef 2002 event at Wooler this week was restoring the flagging fortunes of the beef production sector by concentrating on beef from the suckler herd rather than looking at dairy crosses.

Before BSE the British beef sector was more than 100% self-sufficient. This has dwindled to 78% last year, an estimated 65% this year and a projected 59% in 2003.

"We will have more than 300 beef breed replacement heifers on view to make farmers aware what is on offer in the marketplace," said NBA chief executive Robert Forster.

"This is very relevant to those who wish to stock British beef."

Forster is looking forward to a number of key dates which could trigger significant changes in the marketplace. The first is when the Food Standards Agency decides to ease out the Over 30 Months slaughter scheme, currently accounting for 700-800 cattle a week. Further ahead he is looking for signs of a further easing or removal of the date based export scheme.

"We need the price lift offered by the resumption of exports to help our industry restore self-sufficiency."

June 30 also has significance for the sector. This is the cut-off date for the current round of the GATT allowance for the import of Argentinian beef which has been selling in the Smithfield market at a discount of around 30%.

Brussels' plans to temporarily increase beef deliveries from Argentina in order to ease the country's economic problems are being blocked by some EU governments.

EU beef producing and exporting countries are opposed on the grounds that increased imports would undermine an EU market already weakened by slack post-BSE consumption.

There are also fears about the fresh introduction of foot and mouth to Europe, although the proposals are supported by the UK government.

Large parts of Argentina are still quarantined for foot and mouth.

The Commission is proposing the marketing year for the import of high quality beef (`Hilton beef') should be extended to allow Argentine exports to the EU to catch up after the disruption of exports caused by FMD and the economic crisis.

The effect of the proposal would be to allow in an extra 10,000 tonnes of Hilton beef from Argentina in the 2002-03 marketing year (July to June).
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Title Annotation:National Beef Association
Comment:Wooler spotlight on British beef breeds; Argentinian beef selling at 30% discount at Smithfield. (Beef).(National Beef Association)
Publication:Grocer
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 25, 2002
Words:380
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