Irish levels subdued Relatively low tonnages from Ireland have been the most surprising feature of the UK beef trade since FMD. Shipments from the Republic to this country were about 500t lighter in September than a year earlier, and the January-September total was just 61,318t against nearly 65,000t in the previous corresponding period. Most trade forecasters had assumed the Irish would push in much bigger tonnages while home supply was disrupted by FMD and alternative markets on the Continent and further afield were restricted after last year's BSE scare as demand collapsed. Instead, Ireland's production was also hit by FMD, big volumes were taken off the market into intervention and for subsidised destruction, and several continental markets have partially recovered more quickly than feared. Export slaughterings and prices in Ireland are currently about the same as a year ago, though the comparison is misleading because by then the Republic's industry was already suffering from the BSE trauma. Most of the major Irish suppliers seem sure they will both want and need a bigger share of the UK market over the next couple of years, and some are clearly worried by developments here, including possible renewed protests by British farmers accusing the Irish exporters and the supermarkets here of "unfair trading" in cheap beef. {{MEAT }}