7 November 1997

15% less is on cards for sheep cash

SHEEP farmers in the UK face a 15% cut in their 1997 ewe premium even though both the EU Commission and industry admit there has been no actual rise in market prices over the past year.

The apparent rise, which will trigger the drop in sheep annual premium, is entirely due to agrimonetary fluctuations, according to NFU deputy president and chairman of the EU sheep meat and goat meat advisory committee Ben Gill.

Those have led to an artificial 5.1% ecu rise and, even though the rise is only a technical one, it will still affect ewe premium levels, he said.

Letter to Fischler

In a letter to EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler, Mr Gill said committee members were disturbed that the drop in SAP was not factually based.

The cut comes on top of the 7% stabiliser in the sheep regime, which has been in operation since 1988 and effectively cuts £4 off the ewe premium.

The committee called on the commission to include the sheep meat sector in the Agenda 2000 package, saying there would be reduced world market opportunities and EU surpluses without further reform.