27 July 2001

Sick welfare cut

FURTHER cuts in livestock welfare disposal scheme payments have been slammed as "sick" by one pig industry spokesman.

The new rates, announced on Tuesday by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs junior minister Lord Whitty, mean producers forced to send pigs into the scheme will qualify for a maximum of only £45 an animal – a drop of £5.

"This reduction is saving the government peanuts," said Ian Campbell, regional director of the National Pig Association. "People use LWDS as a last resort. Why persecute them further?"

Cull sow payments remain the same at £30 a sow.

Light lamb producers, hit by a collapse in the export market, are also incensed by the new tariff. Lambs under 30kg will qualify for 35p/kg lwt, capped at a meagre £10 a lamb.

"This is another kick in the teeth from DEFRA," said a Farmers Union of Wales spokesman. "To offer less than half of last years market price is the final insult."

In the dairy and beef sector, a flat rate payment of £900 a cow has been replaced by £700 for animals up to four years and £350 for older animals. Cattle under 30 months will get 65p/kg lwt, with a ceiling of £365. &#42