7 July 2000
Agrimoney: ‘Must try harder’, MAFF told

By FWi staff

THE government has come under fire from farm industry leaders for its failure to seek agri-monetary compensation.

It was criticised at an industry forum held in London on Thursday (06 July).

The forum brought together UK agriculture departments and farm, food, retail and consumer representatives to discuss progress on the governments action plan for farming.

Speaking after the event Scottish National Farmers Union president Jim Walker said the union was “appalled” that the cereals sector was overlooked in the 30 March aid package.

“Once again I outlined the case to the minister, which is now even stronger – Scottish arable payments are down by 13 million this year due to the strength of sterling.

“This, combined with the effect on cereal prices could result in losses of over 30m this year,” he said.

He also criticised “crippling” fuel prices and called for the government to make the Date-Based Export Scheme more workable.

The NFU of England and Wales also highlighted agrimonetary aid for the cereal sector as a crucial issue for the summit partners.

Union president Ben Gill said the continuing strength of Sterling is causing acute problems for the arable sector.

“While arable farmers elsewhere in the EU are receiving arable aid payments to compensate for cuts in support prices, uniquely, as a result of sterlings value, UK farmers will get less help than last year,” he said.

Other key elements include the implementation of business support, the completion of the retailer code of practice and de-regulation in line the red-tape review, he added.

Farm minister Nick Brown said excellent progress had been made so far in developing the action plan.

He highlighted the fact that the EU Commission has now approved the 66m in agrimonetary compensation promised in the action plan for the beef, dairy and sheep sectors.

But he was not able to announce Commission approval for the 26m/year pig restructuring scheme.

While the Commission has agreed to the scheme in principle, it is still not satisfied with some of the details of MAFFs application, according to National Pig Association chief executive Mike Sheldon.

He is confident that permission will be given soon, but warned that even if it is given the go ahead., the three year scheme could still fail to deliver a single penny.

The Commission will only pay out for the scheme, which is divided into outgoers and ongoers parts, if producers accounting for at least 120,000 sows apply for the outgoers part. This is not guaranteed, said Mr Sheldon.

The industry forum is due to meet again in three months time.