5 September 1997

Sheep quota tradeable

SHEEP producers can start trading their 1998 quota from next Tuesday (Sept 9), enabling them to fine-tune their requirements for sheep annual premium (SAPS).

A change in the rules means they no longer have to lodge transfer forms with MAFF before they can make their premium claims. But the documents must have reached MAFF by Feb 4, 1998 at the latest.

New rules also mean producers may not lease out quota for more than three successive years. And when a producers leasing period has ended, he may not lease it again for at least two years.

Agents report a lack of pre-season trading as farmers wait for the notification forms to arrive. Even then, trade is likely to develop slowly. Increasingly, producers prefer to wait until nearer the end of the trading period, when they have a clearer idea of what 1998 sheep premium may actually be worth.

Last season, lowland quota ended at £1 to lease and £8 to buy, having started at double those levels, as expectations of sheep premium levels fell, due to green £ revaluations and rising lamb prices.n