The Over Thirty Month Scheme is intended as an anti BSE measure but its critics claim many of these cattle are being destroyed needlessly as they were born after the implementation of rigorous safeguards. Most retailers would probably resist a rapid rundown of the programme, fearing an adverse reaction from consumers. However the signs of support for change from within MAFF and MLC are tempting traders to look more closely at the OTMS as a market distorting influence. So far this year it has taken nearly half a million cattle out of the supply pipeline. Most would have gone into the manufacturing beef sector. With intervention stocks cleared and the supply of fattened dairy calves in doubt due to disappointing uptake of contracts offered by processors after the cull ended, OTMS is operating as a price support mechanism by creating an artificial shortage. {{MEAT }}