7 April 2000

Scots anger at higher charges for dip disposal

As well as the headline

handouts to farmers Tony

Blairs action plan also tackles

the key issues of environment,

red tape and diversification.

Alistair Driver reports

SCOTTISH NFU officials have reacted angrily to news that farmers in Scotland will have to pay about five times more to be authorised to dispose of sheep-dip and other chemicals than their English and Welsh counterparts.

During the rural summit, the government proposed a single charge of £85 to cover the four-year authorisation period of the new Groundwater Regulations in England and Wales. This means the annual charge of £107 will not be payable during the period, saving the industry an estimated £4.7m.

But farmers in Scotland will still have to pay £123 this year and similar charges in future years, which has been described by the SNFU as a "discriminatory burden" on producers.

But this move and others designed to cut the regulatory burden of environmental legislation were broadly welcomed. Particularly welcome for pig and poultry farmers is the move to defer Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control regulations until 2007, instead of 2003/4. It has also pledged to introduce a system to cut the on-farm costs of IPPC legislation.

Livestock farmers will benefit by an estimated £3.5m from a rise in grant allowance to 40% of eligible expenditure, up from 25%, to help them meet the cost of anti-pollution measures in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones. There were also pledges to minimise the burden from changes to the Nitrates Directive and the Waste Framework Directive.

But the Environment Agency has warned that it may need extra government funding if it cannot recover the costs of introducing environmental legislation from farmers.

SHEEP

&#8226 Agrimoney compensation paid as top up payment on 1999 Sheep Annual Premium worth approximately £1 a head. Total value to industry £22m – under agrimoney rules the government could have applied for £46m for sheep.

&#8226 Payments to be made in summer along with first advances of SAP.

&#8226 Annual charge for groundwater regulations deferred for four years saving producers £107 a year. During four-year period producers will pay only £85 application charge. Total value for industry estimated at £4m.

&#8226 Promise to review measures put in place since BSE crisis including Over Thirty Month Scheme and removal of SRMs from cattle and sheep.

&#8226 Commitment to look for way to reduce scrapie in sheep.

HILLS

&#8226 Budget for support for hill farmers to be increased by £60m for 2000/01 year (to match one-off aid packages made in past two years). Most of money to be added to budget for Less Favoured Area compensatory allowances.

&#8226 Remainder of money to be used to finance consultancy programme designed to improve hill farmers access to business skills.