12 September 1997

£60,000 worse off from OTMS ceiling

By Shelley Wright

GOVERNMENTS imposition of the 560kg payment ceiling for the over-30-month scheme has left a Worcs bull hire firm facing "astronomical losses".

Ray Godwin, Foxley Farm, Mamble, near Kidderminster, stands to lose more than £60,000 a year because of the weight limit. "In 1994 I sold 113 cull bulls for a total of £101,000. They went for human consumption. Now with this ceiling the same number would be worth a maximum of £40,000 through the OTMS," he said.

At current green £ rates the OTMS payments for cull bulls is 62.6p/kg, but the weight ceiling limits payments to £350 a head for stock exceeding 560kg liveweight.

But, despite the losses, Mr Godwin is determined to continue the business he began more than 40 years ago and which now hires bulls to farmers throughout Britain. "I started when I was 18 with just one bull. We now have 150 stock bulls, which we buy in at pedigree sales, and the business is a major part of my life. I dont want to lose it."

While the OTMS ceiling will devastate profits, Mr Godwin says that there is at least one positive aspect to emerge. "Farmers who previously bought their own bulls are now looking at the OTMS price and a lot of them are now coming to me to hire animals rather than buy their own."

Before the OTMS changes, he culled bulls at about four years old, or before that if they became too aggressive or were going off their feet. Now the culling age is likely to be extended, with only 30 going for slaughter later this year and another 40 kept on and winter-housed.

Mr Godwin also says the losses his business is suffering will have to be passed on in the price he is prepared to pay for bulls, which he worries could drive some of the calf rearers out of business. "In 1994 wed have paid up to £1500 for bulls. But now Ill be looking to pay only about £700."

Penalised

The family also runs 250 suckler cows, selling the calves at about a year old. Mr Godwin says the OTMS ceiling will also penalise his cull cows. "Well be losing about £250 a head on those cows compared with two years ago, but well soldier on in the hope that one day the scheme will end.

"Its such a crime for both farmers and taxpayers to see all these cattle being slaughtered and the meat destroyed," he says.

"Id be in favour of lowering the OTMS price to get the ceiling lifted. That would help me, but I realise that thats just robbing one to pay another and could put farmer against farmer." &#42

Kidderminster farmer Ray Godwin says his stock bull hire firm is a major part of his life and he doesnt want to lose it.