European beef herd falling as subsidies end

UK - Despite the high price of beef, the number of cattle in most EU countries is declining a year after direct subsidies ended in most countries.
calendar icon 7 December 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
The striking exceptions is France, the only country to retain subsidies, and Ireland is instituting a similar direct subsidy next year, even though EU rules would seem to forbid such an action.

The German herd declined 3 percent to 13 million beef and dairy animals; the United Kingdom saw a 3 percent decline to 1.7 million beef cattle, and the average decline was about 2 percent. France, alone, saw a modest rise of 1 percent to 4 million head, The Scotsman reported.

However, the number of cattle slaughtered for consumption will rise 2 percent this year, and even more next year, as the EU Council of Ministers is expected to approve a move to allow slaughter and export of meat from animals up to 36 months in age, rather than the present 30 months.

The United Kingdom, which only recently received permission to export beef to other EU countries, has retained a large number of heifers, despite the overall herd decline, presumably to increase herd size if prices increase enough to support the additional production.

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