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Suckler Cow Herds and CAP review

Unwise words from the MLC

(Filed 29 July 03)

Writing in the Summer issue of Beef Farmer, the Journal of the National Beef Association (NBA), MLC's Duncan Pullar and Duncan Sinclair would have us believe that the likely way forward is it use an "easy-care" suckler cow that requires a very limited management input from a stockman (1).

Sadly this reflects the continuing preference on the part of the MLC to promote the commodity beef market - a preference that directly and indirectly is doing much damage to the UK suckler herd. Over the years the MLC seem to have remained deaf to the cries that there is an overabundance of cheap commodity beef in the world and which already floods into the UK.

What is surely required is branded quality beef that eats well - in terms of tenderness and taste - geared to specific markets. Efforts should be focused on the full re-opening of the export market envisaged by the Chief Executive of the NBA Robert Forster, in the autumn of 2004 (2).

The MLC are certainly not helping in this with the stagnation of their Estimated Beef Value (EBV) system that they operate in conjunction with Signet. As Land-Care understands it, the MLC are asking for absurd costs to act as an unnecessary and inefficient intermediary between the operators of BREEDPLAN in Australia and the relevant cattle breed societies in the UK.

As discussed elsewhere in Land-Care (3, 4, 5, 6) a number of breeders, both pedigree and commercial, are highly frustrated with the continuing poor performance of the MLC in its failure to facilitate the production of quality beef that is geared to what the customer wants - something that is worth paying good money for on account of its reliability in terms of taste and tenderness.

However, efforts to produce quality beef as seen in the consumer's eyes (rather than the eyes of those who finish cattle for muscle bulk) will only be worthwhile if the efforts of DEFRA and SEERAD are much more effective than hitherto at preventing further catastrophic outbreaks of disease. Herein lies further substantial uncertainty.




1. Pullar, Duncan and Sinclair, Duncan (2003). Planning for change.
Beef Farmer, Summer 2003; p3

2. Forster, Robert (2003). From the chief executive.
Beef Farmer, Summer 2003: p4

3. Sundstrom, Brian (2002). Breedplan - Australian Based International Beef Cattle Genetic Evolution Programme.
(Filed 2002, www.land-care.org.uk, click here to view).

4. Editorial (2003). Have Signet and the MLC muscled in on Breedplan?
(Filed 5th May 2003, www,land-care.org.uk, Click here to view)

5. Groom, Robert (2003). Letter from America by Expatriate Scot AA Breeder.
(Filed 9 April 2003, www.land-care.org.uk, click here to view).

6. Irvine, James (2003). Future pedigree breeding of cattle: QMS meeting Monday 26th May 2003.
(Filed 6th June 2003, www.land-care.org.uk, Click here to view)