Confusion and contradiction are features of the beef market at the moment, due only in part to the muddle resulting from last year's abolition of the calf culling scheme. Absence of intervention stocks is adding to the pressure on some traders' margins. In late August last year the Intervention Board sold nearly 5000 tonnes into the UK market, and still held stocks of more than 40,000t in this country. Slaughterers were complaining bitterly of this product squeezing their returns from forequarter trade. Now the official stores are empty, and most of their former contents are thought to have been cleared from the private distribution chain. Abattoir operators complain of competition from imports instead. {{MEAT }}