26 October 2001

Disposal scheme payments slashed

DEFRA is planning to slash payment for all types of livestock under the Welfare Disposal Scheme on Oct 29, and expects to reduce tariffs to zero by the beginning of 2002.

Under the proposed scheme sheep farmers will be hit by a flat rate payment of just £10 for lambs and culls. Pork producers will have to cope with a halving of the current £30/head paid for sows, while other pigs will qualify for only 58p/kg lwt. Cattle entered into the scheme will get 45p/kg lwt, and breeding cows and heifers a flat rate of £350.

"To cut payments without sorting out all the movement restrictions is simply scandalous," reckons Les Armstrong, chairman of the NFUs livestock committee. "Farmers are only using the scheme as a last resort."

John Thorley of the National Sheep Association says this trend could grow as fodder worries increase with the approach of winter. However, junior DEFRA minister Lord Whitty claims further planned relaxation of movement restrictions should alleviate most of the problems.

"Legal responsibility for animal welfare has always rested with farmers and they should plan ahead on the basis that there will be no payments by the end of the year," a department spokesman adds. &#42