25 July 1997

OTMS- no delays

NFU leader Sir David Naish says he is extremely disappointed that his appeal to farm minister Jack Cunningham to delay the payment changes to the over-30-month scheme for a month was instantly rejected.

The NFU had called on the minister to delay the Aug 4 cut in cull cow price, and the introduction of a 560kg payment ceiling, so that a more acceptable alternative could be found.

But MAFF said any delay would undermine the objective of the price changes which was to reduce governments expenditure on the scheme. It added that an extra month would also encourage farmers to accelerate their cull plans and increase the number of cattle going through the scheme before the changes took effect.

Sir David said MAFFs response would just add to the anger and frustration felt by farmers over the "hastily imposed and savage cuts".

The NFU had been looking for alternatives, including whether the whole industry should take deeper cuts in return for the removal of the weight limit. "However, we have been amazed that neither the ministry nor the Intervention Board has been able to provide us with sufficient information to make a judgement," he said.