By FWi staff

INTERVENTION Board officials have repeated the warning that the proposal to ask for the maximum weight ceiling to be eased on the over-thirty-months scheme for dairy cows and beef cattle could take some time to resolve.

Numbers forwarded on to the scheme have fallen by 2000 head in the last week, but it is almost impossible to decipher how much of the fall is directly related to the attempt to have the 560kg maximum weight – limit on which compensation is paid – lifted.

Last week, 12,400 cattle (down from 14,900 a week earlier) were projected to have been sent through the scheme, against a weekly kill limit of 15,900 head, reports the IB.

As a consequence of the announcement, auctions have seen OTMS numbers drop off.

Colchester-based Tim Brassington says part of this fall is seasonal.

“Its a new milk year for a start, there are more suckler cows now in retention for subsidy, but there may be some producers holding cows back.

“The likely cost of feeding stock to increase killing weights is unlikely to pay much more than the compensation.”

Also, with another cut in the OTMS payments for April – which follows the Pounds strong performance last month – cow values are currently down to 48p/kg or 268/head and beef animals to 54p/kg or 301/head.

“That is the problem; farmers are always going to be fighting against the value of Sterling,” adds Mr Brassington.

IB officials warn that holding cattle in the hope of taking advantage of the weight ceiling being removed will be a non-runner for some producers.

At present, up to 50% of all stock fail to meet the 560kg restriction.

The earliest response to the Governments call to have the limit lifted is expected to be early next month.