By FWi staff

BEEF farmers have warned that they desperately need to be compensated for the strong Pound, which has caused a sharp drop in European subsidies for beef cattle.

But the National Beef Association has conceded that the government is unlikely to grant any of the support due to them to compensate for currency fluctuations.

Beef prices – which firmed before Christmas on the back of the annual winter fairs – understandably eased back last week to average about 92p/kg at markets.

But new support payments on Beef Special Premium and Suckler Cow Premium will be a shock to many farmers, said John Bell, NBA vice chairman.

The Ministry of Agriculture announced last week that Suckler Cow Premium could be cut by 4% across the board for the 2000 scheme year.

However, beef farmers have already lost 12% in subsidies because of currency movements over the past year, and expect to lose a further 27 million in 2000, said Mr Bell.

The NBA has backed calls from farmers leaders to secure 450 million from the European Union to compensate British farmers for the reduction in subsidies.

But Mr Bell warned: “Despite this drop our government is still likely to turn its back on the 12 million top up due from national funds.”