Welcome for weakening of link between livestock numbers and subsidy income CAP reform set to lead to heavier role for imports More plentiful beef from South America, Australasia and Africa is one significant implication for the UK suggested by industry analysts trying to assess Brussels' proposals for CAP reform. Heavier imports of sheepmeat, perhaps from unfamiliar sources in Eastern Europe, are also seen as possible. Brussels is aiming for subsidy cost reduction, the avoidance of commodity surpluses, high quality and safety, and protection of the environment. Many elements of the package have been welcomed by producers and processors. Weakening the link between livestock output numbers and producers' income from subsidy is a theme welcomed by the MLC and also by the aggressive National Beef Association. MLC beef economist Duncan Sinclair applauded "the promise of freeing farms from much of the burdensome administration and complicated rules governing present livestock premium scheme". NBA chairman Robert Robinson saw a good chance of escaping the "straitjacket of retention periods and irregular stock counts". Yet MLC sources within the MLC expressed concern at the possibility of the decline in UK beef production accelerating, although this was not specifically cited by Sinclair. Robinson, however, was blunt: "Our fear is....production will plummet and the UK beef industry, still struggling to get back to its feet after FMD, will have to accept self-sufficiency much lower than the 59% it faces at present." From a UK retailer perspective, the altered subsidy system could create overdue opportunities for external suppliers to the UK market ---- but the implicit increase in import penetration will provoke fierce political debate. {{MEAT }}