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North West: British beef

The Politics Show North West

British beef
Export orders have already been received from abroad

You could say things are finally looking up for the North West's farmers.

In April 2006 the European Commission lifted the ban on beef exports - 10 years after it was imposed to stop the spread of BSE.

It has opened up a huge market - mainly for beef that the British public has no taste for; offal and older beef that goes into manufacturing.

But will it affect the price of that joint that's roasting in the oven this Sunday?

Beef ban

In 1996 a European Union ban was slapped on British beef exports as the government admitted that eight people had died from diseases related to BSE.

It has been a long 10 years for the farmers we spoke to in Lancashire.

But with the lifting of the ban things are looking up.

In 1995 there were 80m calf exports and 520m Beef exports.

Estimates suggest British Farmers may manage to export 30,000 tonnes beef this year, compared to 274,000 tonnes in 1995.

EU attraction

The lure is obvious, EU beef prices are higher than UK prices. When the ban was lifted a month ago they stood at:

  • UK = 135p per kg, EU = 165p per kg
  • Last week they had risen to UK = 158p per kg, EU = 170p per kg

UK prices are the highest they've been for 9 years.

The National Beef Association says that the EU gives us additional markets.

There is a big market for so-called "5th quarter" (offal etc) which is used as pet food in this country.

The EU will also take a lot of manufacture grade beef which we won't eat.

We are a rich nation and eat mainly Prime Beef (up to 24 months old) whereas Europe prefers Mature Beef (over 30 months) that tends to go into UK manufacturing.

Price wars over?

Up till now, the supermarkets have been able to take advantage of the stagnant British Beef market to hold down prices.

They have used British Beef in price wars. That could change.

Now that farmers have another market for their beef they could opt to export for a higher price rather than sell to supermarkets.

This means the supermarkets will look elsewhere for cheap beef and could import more from the EU.

We already import beef as we are not self-sufficient.

So we could have more British Beef going out and more European Beef coming in.

Political Editor, Jim Hancock explores to beef market live.

Coffee House Challenge

Gill Dummigan reports on the Coffee House Challenge and features an upcoming debate in Liverpool on "Who would be an architect?".

They are trying to 'demystify' architecture, open up the profession and raise questions about architecture in the European Capital of Culture.

Does the public actually know or understand what architects do? Do they care?

To give a taste of the debate Gill looks at:

  • the Catholic Cathedral - a building which was disliked by the public when it was built but has gone on to become well loved and a source of pride
  • Gill and the architects discuss some of the more controversial proposals
  • eg. the New Liverpool Museum
  • on Mann Island by Danish Architects
  • the rejected 'Cloud' by Will Alsop

And a proposed new 40 story Glass Tower by Ian Simpson on Brunswick Dock.

And they look at some of Liverpool's historic buildings which are ripe for developing like the Sugar Silo and the biggest Tobacco warehouse in the country down on the old Docks.

Jim Hancock and Gill Dummigan
Jim Hancock presents Politics Show North West with Gill Dummigan

The Politics Show

Join Jim Hancock and Gill Dummigan live from Oldham on the Politics Show next week, Sunday 11 June 2006 at 12:00 on BBC One.

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