20 March 1998

Welsh warning…

LANDOWNERS leader Ian Mac-Nicol has warned government that unless there is additional financial aid for Welsh beef and sheep farmers, then thousands of families will be forced out of business with no obvious alternative employment in sight.

Speaking during his first visit to Wales as Country Landowners Association president, Mr MacNicol said there could also be adverse consequences for the environment. "Without beef and sheep production, the management of significant upland areas would cease to be viable, and land could be abandoned."

While the CLA welcomed the governments £85m package, announced in December, and its recent decision not to charge producers for the cattle database or for specified risk material removal costs, Mr MacNicol insisted that those measures promised on a brief respite for farmers.

More had to be done if the current desperate plight of farmers was to be relieved, he said. "There must be financial measures to assist the beef and sheep industry in the short term. In particular, restoration of the hill livestock compensatory allowance payments to recognise inflationary increases that have been denied in recent years, together with additional aid for lowland beef producers."