The end of the Over Thirty Month Rule is no longer speculation and an effort must be made by farmers and auctioneers to make sure every abattoir that is ready to handle older beef gets the cattle it wants on November 7th, the National Beef Association said today.
"Around 45 abattoirs across the UK have said they want to process beef from older animals in seven weeks time but some could go short unless supply systems that were cut off overnight in March 1996 are quickly reinstated," warned National Beef Association chairman, Duff Burrell.
"All of these companies have invested in re-training and re-organisation so they can meet the brain test requirements demanded of them by government and the Food Standards Agency."
"And on top of that they will also have committed themselves to meeting orders placed by new customers - many of whom will be prepared to sever nine year long connections with suppliers from the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and other overseas suppliers of manufacturing beef."
"It would be frustrating and untidy if these companies could not get enough cattle of the weight and type they require and the very necessary substitution of imported older beef with home-produced is not as clean, or as swift, as it ought to be."
The NBA would like every breeder who will be culling cows born after the end of July 1996 to take a close look at them now, pick out those that will respond to feeding, and then either finish them himself or quickly sell them on to someone else who can.
"Good cows will be wanted and abattoirs are realistic enough to know that if they want more of the right type to keep coming forward they are going to have to offer the right money for them," said Mr Burrell.
"The OTMS will be running in parallel with the market up until January 3rd. It will pick up sub-standard animals that would otherwise depress prices and after the New Year overall supplies will be lighter anyway."
"One of the factors likely to influence culling policies, and the number of cows sidelined for further feeding, is the unexpectedly low capacity for post-slaughter bi-product disposal this autumn."
"Combined peak period rendering and incineration capacity for both OTMS and commercial abattoirs will be 25 per cent less than last autumn so the system could be at full stretch by the end of October."
"This means queues for the OTMS in November but these could be lightened if as many good cows as possible are finished now and others that are suitable are pulled out for feeding as quickly as possible and then delivered to commercial buyers after November 7th," Mr Burrell added.