12 June 1998

Retirement scheme plea

NFU leader Ben Gill has called on farm minister Jack Cunningham to speed up the implementation of the proposed retirement scheme for farmers.

In a letter to the minister, Mr Gill said it was vitally important that MAFF used every possible approach to get the scheme underway.

"There is a real and growing need among farmers of all ages – especially grassland farmers – for a scheme which offers them a way out of farming and ensures that their land is available for restructuring to the benefit of remaining producers," he said.

He added that the current EU early retirement package did not adequately meet the needs of UK agriculture.

David Williams, chairman of the unions livestock committee, said: "I cannot emphasise enough the strength of feeling UK farmers have on this subject.

"They see a retirement scheme as a practical and sensible solution to the need for restructuring,"

and a positive signal to struggling farmers."