19 January 1996

Stock quota applications are invited

DEVELOPERS who failed to acquire sheep and suckler cow quota in 1993 from the national reserve can now re-apply under new legislation.

The move will benefit hundreds of producers in less favoured areas whose business plans were blocked by inadequate quota allocations. Compensation for those who were forced to buy in additional quota totalling up to £20m will be made available (News, Oct 20).

Farm minister Douglas Hogg announced this week that legislation determining the eligibility for developers quota, which had been declared unlawful by the High Court in June, had been revoked by a statutory instrument laid down in parliament.

It ensures all applications will be treated fairly under new guidelines and that no existing developers stand to lose financially.

Producers will be entitled to apply for developers quota from the special reserve if they submitted a sheep annual premium claim under the 1991 scheme (or earlier) or a suckler cow premium claim before Jan 1, 1993.

Burden of proof

They will have to prove they did not sell or lease out any quota before the end of the application period for the 1993 national reserve. They must also prove to MAFF that the introduction of quotas has jeopardised the viability of their holding.

Mr Hogg hoped MAFF would be able to let suckler cow producers know the outcome of their applications in time for the start of the 1996 scheme application period.

Sheep farmers should know in time for the autumn sales.

It is still unknown how many producers, who lost out or who were deterred from applying for quota from the national reserve, will apply. Mr Hogg has said that one third of the original 5700 applicants to the 1993 reserve from developers were successful.

NFU leader Sir David Naish said the SI was "a vital piece of legislation.

"This and the accompanying compensation measures announced by the minister demonstrate the NFUs determination and its success in securing justice for affected producers."