14 November 2001
Ministers to decide on sheep quota

By Alistair Driver

EUROPEAN agriculture ministers are on the verge of approving a government scheme to reduce sheep numbers by buying quota from farmers.

Reform of the EU sheepmeat regime is on the agenda when the European Council of Farm Ministers meets on Tuesday (20 November).

Brian Bender, permanent secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said he hoped the scheme would be approved.

This would allow member states to buy quota back from sheep farmers.

Mr Bender told journalists on Wednesday (14 November) that reform of the subsidies related to sheep numbers had led to overstocking in the UK.

This is bad for the environment and bad for the market, he said.

Rural recovery co-ordinator Lord Haskins recommended a sheep quota buy-back scheme in his foot-and-mouth recovery report on Cumbria.