Tight beef supply with relatively firm prices is becoming the most likely consequence of the continental BSE crisis and the cattle culling scheme even without taking account of the new provision for subsidised destruction of negative testers, according to MLC beef industry specialist Duncan Sinclair. Pointing out roughly 30% of EU beef production is from cow carcases, some member states will not be able to establish comprehensive testing facilities quickly, and low carcase values for older cattle will make testing too expensive anyway, Sinclair claims disposals outside the food market will absorb very large numbers of these animals. "If half the cows go into the scheme, the EU will be down to 92% self sufficiency," he told The Grocer. Sinclairs calculations indicate scarcity rather than surplus is possible even if demand and consumption remain severely depressed. {{MEAT }}

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