16 September 1999
Welsh vote to go it alone over calves

By Bob Davies

THE Welsh Assembly has voted in favour of a Plaid Cymru motion calling for the introduction of an emergency scheme to help dairy farmers from 1 October.

The 750,000 scheme, which would take worthless dairy calves off the market, will be introduced in Wales unless Westminster proposes a UK-wide scheme.

But Welsh farm minister Christine Gwyther said it would be irresponsible to start paying farmers 20 per calf without first gaining the approval of Brussels.

During a short debate before the vote, Ms Gwyther repeated the pledge by First Secretary Alun Michael that money would be found for a calf scheme.

But it would be wrong to use Welsh Assembly funds for either a calf or a cull ewe scheme until efforts to get Treasury cash were exhausted, she added.

“I am not willing to allow the assembly to pay out this money only for it to be clawed back by Europe,” said Ms Gwyther.

Farming unions anticipate that a separate calf scheme for Wales will be accepted but say that a unilateral scheme for sheep is unworkable.