3 August 2001
Beeb says sorry for lamb price boob

By FWi staff

THE BBC has apologised after telling millions of viewers that farmers are being paid handsomely for lamb while supermarkets are making a loss.

Infuriated farmers complained to the BBC after a 10 Oclock News report by Nicola Carslaw on the crisis facing the sheep industry.

The report said supermarkets were losing 28p/kg on lamb sold at an average of 4.80/kg. But it claimed that farmers were being paid 2.88/kg.

The news item, which was shown on Thursday (2 August), infuriated sheep farmers who typically receive well under 2.00/kg for lamb.

Disgruntled Cornish farmer Judith Pearce told FARMERS WEEKLY that she was quoted just 1.70/kg of lamb by her abattoir on Friday (3 August).

Any apology would come too late for devastated farmers reeling from foot-and-mouth and claims that BSE may be found in sheep, she claimed.

“The damage is done,” said Ms Pearce.

Monmouthshire farmer Andrew Plant, who receives 1.80/kg for top quality lamb, described the BBC report as “rubbish”.

A spokeswoman for the National Farmers Union said its offices had been inundated with callers and urged farmers to contact the BBC direct.

“Some callers were threatening not to renew their television licences. Given the current state of farming, the report has caused deep distress,” she said.

A BBC spokesman said there would be a clarification on Friday (3 August) after angry farmers jammed the corporations switchboard.

“It appears that the report was a little confusing so we will be clarifying the issue on the BBC 10 Oclock News after another report on agriculture.”

The spokesman blamed the mistake on confusion over figures which he said were supplied by the Meat and Livestock Commission.

The MLC said producers received 2.88/kg, but this figure included payments to processor. The BBC believed the figure applied to farmers, he added.