20 June 2001
New beef regime ‘a relief’ — NFUS

By FWi staff

The National Farmers Union of Scotland has expressed guarded relief over the changes to the beef regime agreed by EU farm ministers on Tuesday (19 June).

Union president Jim Walker said the deal was a lot less damaging to the Scottish beef industry than the EU Commissions original plan.

Other leaders have been very critical of the deal. National Farmers Union president Ben Gill said simply applied a sticking plaster to an out-of-date regime.

And Ulster Farmers Union president Douglas Rowe said the package would only serve to complicate things.

It seeks to cut production by lowering the national ceilings for beef special premium (SBP) for two years and reduce stocking rates for claiming extensification premium.

Due to foot-and-mouth, UK producers are excluded from a new rule stipulating that all claims for suckler cow premium must include between 15% and 40% heifers.

Mr Walker said: “This provides us with an opportunity to argue again, in the context of the mid-term review of the regime, against their eventual introduction.

UK producers are also exempt from a new rule suspending for two years the redistribution of suckler cow quota taken into the national reserve because it has not met the minimum usage rules.

Ministers also agreed to reintroduce the 90-head limit for BSP and to raise this years ceiling for beef going into intervention from 350,000t to 500,000t.

Mr Walker said the 90-head limit was potentially a major step backwards, although we do not yet know whether this will apply to us.

The NFUS president was pleased that the threatened imposition of individual quotas for the BSP had been avoided.

But he was still unhappy at the cut in the national ceiling, although it was less than reductions for other countries.

FREE NEWS UPDATE
CLICK HERE to receive FWis FREE new daily email newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest news of foot-and-mouth and other farming-related stories