France's unique direct subsidy delivers growth in beef herd

EU - France was the only European Union country to retain a direct subsidy for each beef suckler cow when the common agricultural policy was reformed last year.
calendar icon 21 November 2006
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In most other member states, direct subsidies worth in total more than £300 per cow were absorbed into the single annual farm payment.

Result? In most countries the number of specialist beef cows is falling, while in France, according to census statistics collated by the Meat and Livestock Commission, it has increased.

In Germany the total cattle herd, beef and dairy, is down 3 per cent to under 13 million. In the UK there was a second consecutive annual fall of 2 per cent, with beef breeding cows down 3 per cent to 1.7 million, although the number of heifers retained for future breeding was almost unchanged, indicating a possible recovery if market prices continue to show improvement.

But in France the beef herd rose 1 per cent to more than four million.

In almost another world, beef production in Ireland - still a vital part of the national economy with 60,000 farmers involved, average herd size 16.6 cows - is thought to be declining.

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