No Excuses for Two Tier System

UK - There can be no justification for any continuation of price discrimination following the lifting today (Monday April 28) of the age limit at which vertebral column must be removed from beef carcasses from 24 to 30 months, says the NFU.
calendar icon 29 April 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

BSE control measures brought in nearly two years ago, setting the age limit at 24 months, imposed huge additional processing costs of up to £150 per carcase on beef from older animals. Those costs were passed on to farmers through lower prices, whilst the rule also affected supplies of traditional bone-in cuts like rib and T-bone steak to customers.

"This latest decision proves there was no justification for the regulation in the first place."
Alistair Mackintosh, NFU livestock board chairman

Spinal column removed from cattle slaughtered between 24 and 30 months had to be treated and disposed of as Specified Risk Material (SRM), the highest category of animal by-products leading to many processors and butchers refusing to purchase the carcase.

The NFU's target now is to scrap age discrimination altogether, so as to remove the remaining disincentive to slow-grown, grass-fed, older beef, which has hit traditional breeds such as the Galloway, particularly hard.

NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said: "This is good news as the legislation caused an unnecessary two-tier market for different aged cattle. It also imposed huge costs on processors and butchers whilst reducing the supply of bone-in cuts to customers.

"The later maturing cattle breeds which fit into the 24 to 30 month age range were heavily discounted at farm gate as the controls imposed greater cost burdens in the supply chain. This latest decision proves there was no justification for the regulation in the first place."

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