19 September 2001
Use virus cash to quit – Tory MP

By FWi staff

THE chairman of a House of Commons select committee has urged dairy farmers to consider using foot-and-mouth compensation to quit the industry.

Tory MP David Curry, chairman of the select committee on environment, food and rural affairs, said payments meant older farmers could retire gracefully.

“Foot-and-mouth compensation offers a better payoff than any other form of exit from the industry,” he told listeners at the Dairy Event in Warwickshire.

“If some producers dont take it then they will be acting against their best interests,” Mr Curry said on Wednesday (19 September).

Tim Brigstocke, chairman of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, predicted that the number of milk producers may halve within 10 years.

“At least the tragedy of foot-and-mouth provides to some what was not available before – the chance to retire with dignity,” he said.

There are 28-30,000 UK dairy farmers, said Mr Brigstocke. That number will fall to 22,000 within four years and slump to 15-18,000 by 2010.

The sector would re-structure around three different groups, he added.

“First there will be full-time, high-output, very efficient producers with close links to the food chain,” said Mr Brigstocke.

“Second, there will be part-time dairy farmers producing niche products. And third there will be hobby farmers of one form or another.”

But environmental restraints, particularly regarding muck handling, mean 1000-cow units are unlikely to become common, Mr Brigstocke predicted.

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