Domestic beef production 12% down Home produced beef is about to become scarcer than during the FMD, according to the MLC's Cattle Market Outlook. Production in the current quarter will be about 12% lighter than in July-September last year and the fourth quarter will see a slightly sharper fall, with the prospect for early 2003 even worse. More significant than FMD factors, in the view of the MLC analysts, are changes in the beef cattle subsidy system and pressures on the dairy sector. Fewer calves becoming available is now evident from official data on livestock passport applications. Moreover, beef producers are being encouraged (and will soon be legally obliged) to use some of their subsidy quota for slaughter heifers rather than breeding stock. However, imports are expected to plug the gap: supplies from overseas will surge from 295,000t to 390,000t, cancelling out the collapse in home production from 634,000t to 552,000t, and leaving consumption almost unchanged at 932,000t. {{MEAT }}