New reports on world sheepmeat market prospects from Australian and New Zealand forecasters look likely to infuriate British lamb processors and producers, especially those who believe in conspiracy theories. The puzzling scale and persistence of FMD have prompted allegations of an official plot to destroy this country's sheep industry because it is unviable economically and environmentally damaging. Subsidy cost relative to output much higher than in other meat sectors, structural surplus with long-term decline in domestic demand, and over-grazing in areas of natural beauty were certainly causing concern in government. Yet now, following MLC and Defra predictions of perhaps permanent contraction due to FMD, come Australasian analyses implying there might have been room in the market for heavier output after all. Meat New Zealand says production from the main sheepmeat trading nations will drop 150,000t over the next five years leading to shortages and rising prices in the international lamb markets. The Australians, too, reckon world output will shrink, though their emphasis is on the likely increasing role of US buyers in boosting demand. {{M/E MEAT }}

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