13 September 2000
Plan to cut OTMS cash angers union

By FWi staff

EUROPEAN Commission proposals to cut additional support paid to Over Thirty Month Scheme cattle have horrified the National Farmers Union.

The union claims the move is an attempt to introduce major policy changes through the back door.

On Friday (15 Sep) the EC Beef Management Committee will discuss a proposal that OTMS cattle in the UK should be excluded from the Slaughter Premium Scheme.

Thisa was introduced to compensate farmers for cuts following the Agenda 2000 reforms.

The Commission says that OTMS animals are not eligible because they did not receive any support payment cuts under the reforms.

But NFU President Ben Gill has written to Agriculture Commission Franz Fischler to register his concern at the proposal and the way it has come to light.

He said: “The NFU is horrified and bewildered by this suggestion. As things are already, farmers are not fully compensated for older cattle.

To argue that the SPS should no longer apply to such cattle is to add insult to industry.

Mr Gill said he was particularly worried about the way the detail of this proposal was presented.

“What particularly worries us is that the details of such a major change in the operation of the SPS have been hidden in a very ambiguously worded agenda item for a meeting of the Beef Management Committee.”

Since the Agenda 2000 reforms, the gap in market returns between the UK and other member states has risen substantially, says the NFU.

It says this puts UK farmers at a major competitive disadvantage.