Sustainable farming and food minister Lord Bach has called a second beef summit for next Wednesday to coincide with the resumption of normal exports of British beef to Europe.

At the first summit last October, Lord Bach announced an £8m package of support designed to improve farmers' fortunes - much of it to be spent by the English Beef and Lamb Executive on initiatives to boost exports of cow beef to Europe.

Defra officials said Lord Bach wanted to review the progress of such projects, and also discuss how the results of an EU consultation on welfare regulations, due to be published shortly, might impact on the resumption of live calf exports from the UK.

Live exports, the cause of huge controversy in the past, will be permitted again from May 3, the same time as exports of carcases and cut meat.

But MLC export manager JP Garnier said it would be some time before the first truckload of calves left these shores.

"The state veterinary service still has to finalise the export requirements, and in any case it remains unclear at this stage who exactly would export the animals."