31 March 2000
Blair must do more, say hill farmers

By FWi staff

TONY BLAIR must come up with more than a 60 million aid package if he is to really help hill farmers, according to the Hill Farming Initiative.

Hill farmers were obviously pleased to hear they would be getting some money, but the result was really a standstill, said Alastair Davy, HFI spokesman.

“It is a strange situation where we have to claim a victory for what is already ours. The money was really allocated to us by the EU anyway,” he said.

Mr Davy told Farmers Weekly that the 60m pledged by the prime minister would do little to help producers while net incomes remained so low.

The problems in the hills were are acute, he said. “Short-term, small amounts of money are not going to cure this.”

The government had failed to address the central problem of how to make sure that more of the money available actually got to farmers.

“We have got to address that or we are all going to lose out. We want the government to think of new proactive ways to target that money.”

John Thorley, chief executive of the National Sheep Association said the aid package showed the government was starting to recognise the plight of farmers.

But he told Farmers Weekly that producers would still face difficulties until there was an improvement in market prices.

“Im very pleased about the 60m for hill farmers, and of course pleased with the 22m agrimoney compensation, which is a step in the right direction,” he said.

“But the bottom line is that we need a fair price for the product we produce.”