First estimate from European Commission officials is up to two million cattle could be culled under the new scheme. However, the ultimate number is anyone's guess because it is impossible to forecast how soon all EU states will have in place procedures for testing every animal aged over 30 months intended for the food chain. The longer it takes, the more cattle will have to be culled, and on first impression it appears certain several hundred thousand tonnes annually will be drained from the EU market this way. The cost will be enormous, almost certainly into the billions of pounds. However, from the EC's viewpoint, culling is preferable to heavy intervention. {{MEAT }}