31 October 2001
Farm aid announcement due shortly

By Tom Allen-Stevens

LORD Whitty is expected to make a statement to the House of Lords on agrimonetary compensation this afternoon (Wednesday, 31 October).

The deadline to apply for the 57 million package designed to compensate arable farmers for the strength of sterling expires at midnight tonight.

Todays move has come after intense lobbying for the government to apply to Brussels for the compensation.

Last night, National Farmers Union president Ben Gill and deputy president Tim Bennett met with Rural Affairs minister Margaret Beckett.

At the meeting she said that she understood the problems farmers are facing, but said all government departments are under pressure to reduce spending.

Mr Bennett told FWi that failure to pay would show the government has taken a positive step to discriminate against UK agriculture.

The reason governments sign up to the agrimonetary system is to make sure the single market operates fairly for all those within it.

He said that farmers had made huge advances in animal welfare and care for the environment, but still the government seem to be opposed to help the industry.

“The government needs to start to be proud of UK agriculture and facilitate a rural recovery, rather than insist on playing the role of regulator.

“If ministers continue to work against our efforts to turn farming fortunes around, it will put this industry out of business as a mainstream player, said Mr Bennett.

Lord Whitty is due to make his statement at 4:00pm.

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