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Union chief calls for action on EU beef market

Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella organisation for the EU's farming unions, has warned of the serious situation facing the EU beef sector, with EU producers being hit by high production costs and low margins.

The move follows on from demonstrations by Europe's dairy farmers angry at being paid below the cost of production for their milk, with some demanding a price increase of 25%. More than 2000 dairy farmers with about 1000 tractors descended on Brussels on Monday, ahead of talks by EU Ministers on the EU dairy regime.

At the height of the protest, farmers sprayed milk through large hoses at the parliament building, covering police and the public in the process.

The protests continued into Tuesday, with traffic brought to a standstill by tractors.

Speaking in Brussels, Pierre Chevalier, chairman of Copa-Cogeca's Beef-meat Working Party, said: "EU beef producers are being squeezed by high production costs and low margins. EU production is expected to decline by 4.8% in 2012, compared to 2011, and the beef cow herd by 3%."

Outlining ways to improve the situation, Mr Chevalier said: "We need a plan to re-launch EU beef production. Support under the future CAP needs to become more targeted and production needs to be encouraged via the suckle cow premium. Measures to manage the market, such as intervention, also need to be improved. The EU intervention price needs to be updated to take account of the higher input prices."

Lawrie and Symington Ltd sold 127 store bullocks in Lanark on Tuesday to a top of 201.4p per kg and an average of 185.9p, while 97 store heifers peaked at 207.7p and levelled at 172.6p.

Wallets Marts sold 1690 prime lambs in Castle Douglas to a top of £80 per head and 194.9p per kg to average 160.2p.

The 426 cast sheep forward saw rams sell to £85 for Texels and average £45.19 overall.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 13 prime bullocks at Ayr on Tuesday to a top of 240p and an average of 207.6p, while 14 prime heifers also peaked at 240p and levelled at 212p. Thirteen young bulls sold to 223.5p and averaged 192.3p.

A smaller show of nine dairy cattle was topped by a Holstein Friesian heifer at £2000 and averaged £1783.75.

The firm went on to sell 1077 prime lambs in Newton Stewart to a top of £80 and 200p to average 157.2p.

The Cumberland and Dumfriesshire Farmers Mart had 22 prime cattle forward in Dumfries when heifers sold to 225.5p and averaged 208p, while bullocks peaked at 236.5p and levelled at 206.8p.

The 78 OTM cattle in the rough ring saw beef cows average 117.3p and dairy cows level at 90.6p.

In the sheep ring 931 prime lambs sold to £86.50 and 180p to average 156.5p.

There were also 603 cast sheep forward with ewes selling to £88.50 for Leicesters and £52.50 for Blackfaces.

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Agriculture

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