31 July 1998
Government axes £50m calf cull

THE Government is axing the Herod Scheme, which pays farmers £50 million a year to destroy thousands of unwanted baby male calves in the wake of the BSE crisis.

The last payments, of little more than £77 an animal, will be made in November.

Farmers leaders said the decision would hurt milk producers hardest, because they were suffering from the loss of export market for calves under the European Union ban and falling profits from milk sales.

Some 1.2m calves under 20 days old have been destroyed under the Herod scheme, also known as the Calf Processing Aid Scheme.

Nick Brown, the new agriculture minister, angered farmers by masking the cutback with an announcement that the Government would pay £6m a year to subsidise the culling of calves born after 1 August, 1996, to cows with BSE, in a new attempt to persuade the European Union to lift its export ban.