27 April 2001
Union anger at disposal payment cuts

By Isabel Davies

FARM unions are seeking urgent talks with the government over its decision to cut payment rates for the foot-and-mouth welfare disposal scheme.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown announced on Thursday (26 April) that from 30 April, payments will be cut to bring them more in line with the market.

The minister told the House of Commons it was imperative that the rates for the scheme were not more financially attractive than those offered by abattoirs.

But the National Farmers Union has described the move a devastating blow to farmers trying to ride out the crisis.

NFU president Ben Gill said farmers with animals already entered into the scheme would suffer because of the sudden change.

“I am also concerned that the rates for sows and hoggets are being based on prices for the few animals still going into the domestic market,” he said.

“Their true worth is determined by export demand that is now cut off.”

The Scottish NFU said the cuts would be deeply resented by producers who applied for the scheme weeks ago but had not still had their stock taken.

It added that cuts should not apply until the current backlog of animals had been cleared.

John Kinnaird, union vice president said: “We do not accept that there has been over-compensation in the payment rates currently applicable.

“The union negotiated these rates in good faith with the government to reflect the costs and loss of value associated with the animals concerned.”

The rate for cull and draft ewes, new-season lamb, clean cattle and pigs will be revised to about 70% of current market prices.

For hoggets and cull sows a higher rate of 80% will be available.

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