22 May 1998
Tories ‘squandered millions’ on beef support

THE previous Government squandered millions of pounds on schemes to prop up the beef industry following the BSE crisis, according to a National Audit Office report to be published within the next two months.

It will argue ministers gave excessive compensation to farmers and paid inflated fees to abattoirs and renderers.

Douglas Hogg, the former agriculture minister, was so keen to protect the beef industry that he abandoned normal procedures of ensuring value for public money, it will conclude.

Some £1.3 billion has been spent on compensation schemes to date. Most of it has been paid to farmers via the Over-Thirty-Month Scheme, which was established to prevent animals over 30 months entering the food chain.

The initial rate of compensation was cut twice, and a maximum amount was introduced under the Blair Government after the Treasury thought farmers were taking advantage of the scheme.

Some 2.3m cattle have been killed under the OTMS and 1.2m calves have been slaughtered under the Calf Processing Scheme.

  • Financial Times 22/05/98 page 20