Brazil set to profit at expense of EU farmers

UK - The EU-27 is fast becoming one of the major importers of beef in the world and that trend is set to accelerate as the 2005 reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy begin to bite, with support now decoupled from production, with the noticeable exception of France where producers still receive headage payments for breeding cows.
calendar icon 7 July 2007
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Recent figures from Brussels reveal that, in the first three months of this year, the EU imported 74,200 tonnes of beef. This was actually down by 2,800 tonnes on the equivalent period of 2006. However, this is nothing more than a statistical blip and down to the fact that, for the first time in ten years, beef from cattle aged over 30 months in the UK was once more permitted to enter the food chain.

It now seems probable that, over the full year, the EU will import at least 300,000 tonnes of beef. That may not appear to be a major problem, given the fact that in 2000 imports totalled 257,895 tonnes. However, that has to be put in context with the market situation of seven years ago when the EU also exported 536,492 tonnes.

The big winners have been Brazilian ranchers who, in the first quarter of this year, traded 45,700 tonnes of beef with the EU, over 5,000 tonnes to the UK. Argentina also exported 14,700 tonnes in the first quartert.

Beef prices to producers throughout the EU are now running at between 5 and 20 per cent lower than 12 months ago at an average of just over 200p per kilo deadweight: in 1995, the year before the BSE crisis engulfed the industry, the UK steer average over the full 12 months was 227.7p per kilo.

Source: Scotsman
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