Sir; The unnamed source quoted in the article on post-CAP denial among retailers (Market Edge, August 21, p56) has misunderstood the National Beef Association position.
We are accused of peddling doom and being in danger of driving more retailers towards imported beef because we are pointing out that after CAP reforms are adopted, UK farmers will not be able to produce beef cattle unless they can enjoy a market return of around 250p per dead-weight kilos (compared with about 198p at present) and at the same time cut their costs by 25-30%.
We are encouraging them to do the latter but can do nothing about the former - which is why we remind retailers there are many reasons they should protect UK beef production.
We are saying that home-killed beef is likely to have a longer shelf-life and retailers using it are less likely to be embarrassed by empty shelves through long-distance interruptions to delivery schedules. Also that UK beef makes it easier to meet product quality targets and consumer healthcare standards while imported beef requires much heavier public liability insurance premiums.
On top of this, Brazilian beef production relies on the continued destruction of the equatorial rainforest and the use of GM soya, and deliveries from Argentina not only fall short of UK welfare standards but carry the additional stigma of being price-competitive as a result of indefensibly low wages.
South American imports are also open to charges of indefensible environmental cost in food miles terms and of avoidable uncertainty about cattle traceability, growth hormone guarantees and compliance with drug residue restrictions.
The NBA thinks supermarkets would like to stick with UK beef for all these reasons. So, far from driving retailers to explore import alternatives, the NBA is saying they can protect their high quality, high convenience, home-killed supplies if they pay efficient producers enough to cut the cost of production..