Hopes of a boost for manufacturing beef supplies through relaxation of the anti-BSE Over Thirty Month Scheme have been repeatedly dashed by the Government's refusal to raise the age limit, but processors and retailers may derive some indirect benefit from a different concession by the authorities ­ lifting of the compensation weight limit. The main damage suffered by the industry since this compulsory cull of older cattle was introduced in the midst of the BSE crisis has been the loss from the food chain of about four million cows, which would otherwise have gone mostly for meat product making or exports. However, the 560kg weight limit has increased financial pressure on the production sector by under-compensating farmers for about half the compulsorily destroyed beasts. This has also caused some illicit sales of cattle aged over 30 months into the commercial beef market. Less obviously, the harsh financial penalty may have lowered beef cattle quality by making farmers reluctant to take good heifers into breeding herds because they make more money for slaughter young than the old cows they would replace. However, this problem will not necessarily be eased yet, because raising the compensation payments needs EU approval. {{MEAT }}

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