6 August 2001
Foot-and-mouth: ‘Nothing to hide’

By FWi staff

FARM leaders say the industry has nothing to hide from investigations into foot-and-mouth compensation after 37 farmers each claimed more than 1 million.

National Farmers Union president Ben Gill said: “Some of these animals were pedigree stock, with bloodlines built up over generations.

“They were worth tens of thousands of pounds each, with hundreds of animals in a herd. Farmers breeding stock is their biggest capital asset.”

The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee are to investigate the amount of compensation paid to farmers.

But Mr Gill said that farmers who had livestock culled did not pull a figure out of the air. Animals were independently valued, he added.

“Farmers have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.

“Whatever compensation payments are being made, no money can ever make up for the devastating loss of years of work in this way.”

Michael Hart, chairman of the Small and Family Farms Alliance, said ministers were trying to divert attention from their handling of the outbreak.

It is becoming clear that farming is the target of a dirty tricks campaign to blame foot-and-mouth on farmers, he said.

Less than half of one per cent of all the farmers whose animals have been slaughtered will receive compensation of 1m pounds or more, said Mr Hart.

Robert Robinson, chairman of the National Beef Association, accused journalists of misrepresented foot-and-mouth victims.

Reporters had insinuated that the disease had made farmers rich when livestock had been destroyed at the governments insistence, he said.

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