France is unlikely to be in a position to accept British beef when the ban on normal exports ends next month.
Defra has confirmed that beef exports from the UK to other EU countries are expected to begin on May 3. However, experts have warned that French legislation prohibiting the import of British beef has not yet been removed by the country's food safety agency.
National Beef Association chief executive Robert Forster said: "An agency meeting later this month will, hopefully, remove the current legislation. In the meantime France will be in a position to accept live exports from May 3, but not beef exports."
Forster said he believed that it was not the case that France - which is set to become a key beef export target for the UK - was stalling.
But precisely when UK beef exports to France would resume was unknown, he added. "Germany has already repealed its legislation banning UK beef. France is just lagging behind a little. There's always the possibility that it could be several days, or even weeks, after May 3."
The export of beef from Britain to France has been a politically charged issue for years. In 1999, Brussels eased a total ban on British beef exports - imposed to prevent the spread of BSE - and replaced it with the tightly controlled Date Based Export Scheme (DBES).
However, France kept its total ban in place - a move ruled illegal in 2001 by the European Court of Justice. France lifted it in 2002 and accepted DBES.
Rachael Porter