19 April 2002

NSA balks at freeze

THE National Sheep Association is questioning government plans to freeze the sheep quota national reserve for one year.

DEFRA will shortly write to producers explaining it needs to reduce national quota by 320,000 units to comply with a European directive agreed in December 2001.

The letter will explain plans to take the quota out of the national reserve and freeze it for 2003 because such a limited amount will be left.

The reserve exists so producers such as newcomers to farming or young farmers can apply for free quota if they meet strict eligibility criteria. John Thorley, chief executive of the NSA, said he planned to raise the issue at a meeting yesterday (Apr 17) with junior DEFRA minister Lord Whitty.

Newcomers would have no choice but to lease or buy quota if they wanted to start sheep farming, said Mr Thorley. "There are so many impediments to people starting up we need to do everything we can to encourage them in." &#42