8 December 2000

Strong £ means less q for UK livestock

UK farmers are likely to receive lower livestock headage payments than their European counterparts next year due to the strong £.

The NFU is preparing to claim agrimoney compensation to make up the deficit.

European farms are guaranteed higher payments under Agenda 2000. For example, beef special premium payments will rise from k122 to k136 next year, and suckler cow payments from k163 to k182. Slaughter premiums for adult cattle and calves are set to double, to k53 and k33.

But in the UK, subsidies have to be converted from ks into £s using the average exchange rate during December. A recent rally in the k is helping; it was worth 61.5p as farmers weekly went to press this week, a 4% gain in the past 10 days. But while headage payments will rise a few £s, the gain is still well short of that seen in the eurozone.

The average rate for the first seven days suggests UK beef and sheep farmers will be entitled to £15m-£20m in agri-money compensation. &#42