31 October 2001
Welfare cuts hit thousands of farmers

By Isabel Davies

CUTS to payments under the Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme show a brutal disregard for thousands of struggling farmers, say farm leaders.

New lower payment rates came into effect on Tuesday (30 October). The scheme will end entirely on 31 December.

A livestock collection and disposal service will operate from the New Year but with no payments attached.

The National Farmers Union said the decision to go ahead with cuts showed that the government had ignored the plight of livestock farmers.

NFU president Ben Gill said the fact that the cuts had gone ahead showed a “heartless and brutal disregard for the state of thousands of farmers.”

Many producers have been under restrictions for months and are still not benefiting from the partial relaxation of movement restrictions, he said.

Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Peter Ainsworth said the cuts targeted the people who had suffered most and savings to taxpayers would be minimal.

The cut in payments went against the advice of the governments foot and mouth stakeholder group, said Mr Ainsworth.

He added: “Members [of the group] may now be asking themselves why they bother to attend meetings with ministers.”

Under the new arrangements payment rates for breeding cows and heifers will be a flat rate of 350 per head and for other cattle 45p/kg liveweight.

Sheep farmers will receive 30 for breeding ewes and 10 for other sheep. Sow payments will be 15 each. Other pigs will receive 58p/kg liveweight.

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