31 May 1996

Suckler & beef premiums for top-up soon

TOP-UPS to 1995 beef and suckler cow premiums have been proposed by the European Commission.

It has suggested a £17.99 a head increase in the special beef premium and a £21.41 a head rise in the suckler cow premium to be paid by Oct 15.

In addition the commission has made £99.36m available for member states to spend in the beef sector, with £13.96m allocated to the UK, £24.8m to France, £16.53 to Germany and £7.7m to Italy.

But EU farm group COPA said the aid package was not enough to compensate producers and more money had to be found. The proposal excluded all animals ineligible for premium, it said, and the 90-head beef premium limit should be removed.

NFU officials welcomed the cash but said more was needed to allow member states to target aid at producers who had suffered most, including heifer beef producers and winter beef finishers.

The draft legislation is due to be discussed by farm ministers at their meeting on June 3. But it cannot be finally adopted without an opinion from Euro-MPs.

&#8226 More veterinary inspectors are to be employed by the European Commission under proposals to set up a EU-wide veterinary and plant health inspection and control agency. The commission claims the agency, which will be financed by member states, will ensure EU animal and plant health rules are enforced and public health protected.