1 November 2001
Arable sector pays price for virus

By Tom Allen-Stevens

ARABLE farmers are incensed that the government has blamed foot-and-mouth for failing to apply for 57m in agrimoney compensation.

Disappointment and condemnation greeted the governments decision that none of the 57 million will be paid from Brussels.

Countryside minister Elliot Morley said there were many competing demands for money, not least the cost of eradicating foot-and-mouth.

A further 44m over the next two years will not be available either, prompting accusations that arable farmers are now “the forgotten sector.”

Its the latest in a string of blows for growers in Scotland, some of whom are still struggling to bring in almost worthless spring barley.

“Were extremely disappointed,” David Houghton, cereals committee chairman of the National Farmers Union of Scotland told FWi.

“We dont resent foot-and-mouth getting the headlines, but government spending should not all be in one area.”

The NFUS had the backing of the Scottish Executive in its lobbying for the compensation. But the pleas were dismissed by Whitehall.

Philip Wynn, managing director of Lincolnshire-based Aubourn Farming, said the decision was a bitter pill to swallow.

“I dont think the government really understands how difficult and catastrophic the situation on arable farms really is.

“For many farmers there is a negligible or negative return this year, yet rural business funding is being redirected into foot-and-mouth areas.”

The final tranche of compulsory agrimonetary aid from the 1999 harvest will be paid this autumn, amounting to 28m.

But the decision to apply for neither the second nor third 2000 payments nor compensation for this year is set to cost the arable sector 101m.

“The cereal sector has been let down by the government in the worst way possible,” said National Farmers Union president Ben Gill.

“Many will not have the heart to carry on after this.”

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