Sharp contraction of British lamb supplies as a consequence of EU farm subsidy reform now appears much less likely than some pundits were predicting a couple of years ago.
Prominent analysts, including the MLC’s former sheep sector economist Jane Connor, originally forecast a fall of 30% or more in breeding stock numbers by 2010.
However, MLC economist Duncan Sinclair reckons the structural contraction will be less severe than originally feared, with a relatively stable industry and market until at least the end of next year.
The MLC and EBLEX have not published forecasts for the longer term, but the heavier culling of ewes evident during the first half of this year and likely to recur during early winter does not signal a severe, permanent cutback.
Total UK production of lamb and mutton in the current year is a bit heavier than in 2004, at 319,000 against 306,000 tonnes, and only a negligible drop of 7,000 tonnes is forecast for 2006.