25 July 1997

OTMS cuts denounced as insult to industry

LANCS farmer and butcher, Tom Ashton, has denounced the changes to the over-30-month scheme payments as an insult to the British beef industry.

From Aug 4, OTMS payments for cull cows will fall by 11% to 57.7p/kg liveweight, and a new weight ceiling will restrict compensation to 560kg.

Mr Ashton said the changes would affect all farmers, but those with continental suckler cows faced huge losses.

Many of the cows weighed up to 1000kg and cost more than £1000 to produce. To pay farmers a maximum of £323 for such cattle in the OTMS was an insult to the British beef industry, especially when other European slaughter schemes were paying farmers £284 for cattle under 13 months old, he said.

"My last Belgian Blue cow, sold at Beeston market in Cheshire, made £1649. Overnight my cull cows will be worth £322.93. It is totally unacceptable to an industry still suffering from a depressed prime cattle trade," said Mr Ashton, Lawns Farm, Wigan.

He described the British beef industry as the laughing stock of Europe. "If we are in the EC we should be paid full compensation value based on the prices other EC members are achieving for their cull cows."

The OTMS weight limits were irrational, he insisted. Not only would they impact heavily on the large number of commercial suckler producers running continental-cross cows, but pedigree herds would also be hard hit. Mr Ashton, who runs pedigree Belgian Blues with his wife Margaret and son Ivan, said pedigree breeders were losing money and losing confidence. &#42

Jeremy Hunt

Ivan Ashton with some of the familys continental cattle.