Friday, 21 September, 2001

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

SHEEP producers are to receive just 1.94 a ewe for their second advance annual premium payment in October.

That is even less than the dismal 2.42 they got for the first 30% advance which was paid in July.

The low figure is because continental prices are still soaring due to the enforced absence of British lamb in the wake of foot and mouth.

The calculation is based on an European Union average market price of some Euro4/kg deadweight – equivalent to 246p/kg deadweight.

That compares with a recent UK price of just 165p/kg dw.

“We are extremely disappointed,” said National Farmers Union livestock adviser Kevin Pearce. “The sheep sector is already in turmoil and this further aid reduction is devastating.

“We are being short changed on the ewe premium, when it is supposed to support the market.”

Based on the current European market price, Brussels predicts that the full ewe premium this year will come to Euro10.8 (6.65) a ewe.

After 2.5% modulation in the UK, that will come down to just 6.48. That compares with 10.73 last year, 13.57 in 1999 and 17.45 in 1998.

Mr Pearce said he was particularly worried by the range of prices being reported to the Meat and Livestock Commission.

“We are hearing quotes of just 120p/kg from parts of Wales, to 170p/kg in other areas.”

Market managers have also rejected the majority of tenders to put sheepmeat into the seven-month private storage aid scheme.

Only seven tenders out of 71 were accepted at quotes of below Euro1190/t – enough to take just 140t off the UK market.

“That will make no difference at all to the market,” said the MLCs Brussels manager, Peter Hardwick.

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