Overheated instructions resulted in unworkable reforms' ­ NBA The controversial beef industry reform package hurriedly put together by the European Commission immediately after the eruption of the BSE crisis on the continent last November is falling apart, the National Beef Association claimed on Monday. The NBA, an aggressive lobbying organisation representing specialist beef producers in the UK, claimed there were signs that if the Commission could add a reduction in stocking rates and a freeze on the distribution of suckler cow premium reserves to the ceiling on intervention purchases already secured, it would abandon the other proposals by early June. Although the NBA is no friend of the supermarkets or the biggest slaughterers companies, its assessment is likely to be welcomed by the multiples and processor leaders, because the Commission package has been seen in Britain as likely to accentuate a conflict between supply and price trends here and on the continent. Beef special premium quotas, the re-imposition of the 90 head limit and the infliction of the compulsory 20% heifer rule on SCP payments which would have done so much to pull down UK beef production and reduce management flexibility will be avoided, the NBA believes. "This seems hard to believe considering the fuss at the time but the current view in Brussels is that the Council of Agriculture Ministers panicked at the collapse in consumer confidence in mainland Europe last autumn and gave the European Commission such overheated instructions it came back with a raft of unworkable reforms," said NBA chairman, Robert Robinson. According to the NBA the Ministers can only agree on the introduction of the reduced 1.8 l/u stocking rate and their total dislike of BSP quotas and the re-introduction of the 90 head BSP limit. "On every other issue, like the 20% heifer rule or the introduction of dairy calf destruction schemes, they are split into fragmented camps that appear impossible to reconcile," said Mr Robinson. "If the Commission was itself desperate to push the package through it would work harder at brokering an all-EU agreement, but now that it has the Purchase for Destruction Scheme in place we are told it prefers to offer individual help on calf destruction or early marketing schemes for countries that request them instead." {{M/E MEAT }}