The government’s announcement of a £12.5m financial aid package for the English livestock sector, although welcomed, has attracted criticism for failing to repair the financial damage caused by the foot-and-mouth outbreak.
The package, which includes £8.5m specifically for hill farmers, was announced by DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn as a result of an “unusual set of circumstances”.
The NFU has warned the estimated £12.5m allocated “falls far short” of the losses of more than £100m sustained by the industry.
“The measures announced by government are a whole lot better than nothing,” said NFU president Peter Kendall. “But to be blunt, the package will make good only a fraction of the enormous financial damage caused by the release of foot-and-mouth from the Pirbright facility and the fact remains that there are tens of thousands of livestock farmers whose incomes have taken a heavy battering, and for whom this package offers little or nothing in the way of direct financial support.”
Lowland farmers have questioned the package, saying that, although they recognise that hill farmers require the “lion’s share”, there needs to be some sort of compensation across the board.
National Sheep Association chief executive Peter Morris welcomed the measures, but said the package represented only a “small sticking plaster placed across a huge bleeding wound”. “More must be done directly by government to help the sheep industry as it stares potential meltdown directly in the face.”