31 August 2001

Welfare scheme lambs devalued

SHEEP producers are furious that lambs and ewes going through the extended welfare scheme are likely to raise half of what they would fetch in a normal season. Junior DEFRA minister Lord Whitty confirmed in an announcement on Tue (Aug 28) that the scheme would offer payment rates of £10 a lamb.

But Dillwyn John, who runs 900 ewes on land adjacent to the Brecon Beacons, described the light lamb payment and £18 for ewes as shamefully small amounts. At that level returns would not cover production costs let alone provide his family with an income, he said.

"My sheep are not cull ewes fit only for the knackers yard, yet I am being treated as though I have only got rubbish," claimed Mr John. "The government should value all livestock individually to ensure that those with quality animals are properly recompensed.

"My family have done all the hard graft. We have build up the farm and livestock over 32 years and now I feel we are being battered into submission by having to accept these scandalous prices." &#42

It is totally wrong."

Mr John said he had done everything he could to protect his stock from F&M. But the way things were going it almost seemed that he would have been better off if the disease had struck his farm, he added.

Hugh Richards, president of NFU Cymru, said the scheme offered prices way below market prices under normal circumstances. If restrictions meant stock could not be moved and traded farmers must receive compensation at market levels. "There is a real danger that measures to eradicate the disease are so punitive that they risk eradicating farmers too."