15 December 2000
Forster hails end to headage limit

By FWi staff

EVERYONES a winner as a result of the Governments decision to abolish the 90-head limit for Beef Special Premium (BSP), says a top industry figure.

Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, said the move, from 2001, will bring better prices and help revitalise the industry.

“We believe there will be no losers in the sector as a result of this, and it will have an immediate impact on the industry,” said Mr Forster.

He predicted the move would bring back big finishers who had left the sector and, as more people sought to buy, prices would receive a boost.

Announcing the news, agriculture minister Nick Brown said: “We have never liked headage limits on premium schemes.

“They discriminate against the UK where enterprises tend to be considerable larger than the EU average.”

Some smaller producers had been wary of the limit being abolished, fearing they would be squeezed by larger operations.

As protection, Mr Brown said those claiming on 30 cattle or fewer would be exempt from clawback if the national ceiling was exceeded.

But Mr Forster said there was plenty of scope for expansion within the ceiling, as 25,000 units went unclaimed last year.

And the NBA chief dismissed fears that huge, new-style operations could spring up and squeeze smaller farmers.

Because BSP claims are protected by forage acreage, they would require vast areas of grazing, he said.

Mr Forster was also pleased with the announcement that the second tranche of National Envelope funds would top up Suckler Cow Premium payments.

For 2001, this will be in the order of 14.50 per head.

“This is excellent news as we need as much encouragement as possible to breed more animals,” he said.