15 May 1998

CTScosts relief for beef rejected

A REPORT calling on taxpayers to pay the running costs of the cattle traceability system until the financial position of beef farmers improves, has been rejected by the government.

Responding to the Commons agricultural committees third report on the UK beef industry, published this week, the government reaffirmed that it would only meet the running costs of the CTS for one year.

Earlier this year, the government agreed to pay the entire CTS set up costs and running costs for one year only, after farmers held demonstrations throughout the country.

The report also called on the government to reinstate support to the rendering industry until market conditions for beef by-products improve.

But this recommendation was also rejected, as it would be equivalent to writing the industry a blank cheque, and that the government was not in a position to do so.

The phasing-out of support has allowed rendering businesses to adjust gradually, and to reintroduce aid would be a backward step.

The committee also expressed concerned that the calf processing aid scheme had resulted in the UK bearing the brunt of an EU-wide need to cut beef over-production, which may compromise the future prospects of the UK beef industry once conditions return to normal.

The government agreed with this comment and said the scheme, open to all member states, was suppose to cease in December, and that it would be consulting industry on any future schemes.