Political correctness clashing with production reality is creating a dilemma for the British meat industry, demonstrated by the muddled responses to the EU beef reform package. "Suddenly everybody wants grass-fed beef and that's precisely what we're good at producing, so why are we being penalised?" This was the perplexed reaction from a senior NFU adviser to the deal. Enforced reduction of stocking densities and cuts in the Beef Special Premium subsidies paid on cattle set alarm bells ringing at NFU hq, though it later became clear there need be little if any adverse practical effect on producers in this country. Rules such as headage limits on BSP claims and minimum percentages of heifers in Suckler Cow Premium quotas were found to be alleviated by the small print. Nevertheless, the opinion of senior NFU staff, shared by the major beef processors and the supermarkets' meat trade advisers, is that the potential for expanding or even maintaining British beef production capacity is jeopardised by the fashionable antipathy to intensive farming. BSE, swine fever and now FMD are assumed to have turned public opinion against industrial agriculture, and the package is in part a political manifestation of this hostility. The new restrictions on stocking density, BSP and SCP are obviously intended to promote low-intensity livestock agriculture. "But that's the way we farm already, and yet we're being hit," complained the NFU adviser, pointing out that British beef production, along with the Irish and some of the French, would be penalised because it was very slightly outside the extensification criteria deemed acceptable yet most excess supply pressure was from the far more intensive continental dairy bull beef production systems. {{M/E MEAT }}