26 January 1996

Further cuts in BSP payments

BEEF special premium and extensification payments for 1995 are to be scaled back again, despite earlier suggestions to the contrary.

Last October MAFF was still predicting the number of first claims in England and Wales would be within the 940,380 regional ceiling and, as such, producers would escape any cuts in their £85.82 a head BSP and £28.61 a head extensification payments.

But provisional figures released this week show an overshoot of just over 31,000 claims in 1995, which will lead to about a 3% scaleback. (Advance BSP payments worth £68.65 a head went out in October, so the scaleback of about £2.50 a head will all be deducted from the balancing payment due in April.)

NFU livestock adviser Kate Trotman said the overshoot was not a surprise. "We were always dubious about the earlier optimism. We questioned where the unexported calves would go."

Figures are not yet available for Scotland, though unofficial estimates predict a scaleback of just under 20%. Last year payments in England and Wales were cut by 7.9% and in Scotland by 22.3%. &#42