Arable crisis is worst ever, MPs told

16 October 2001

Arable crisis is worst ever, MPs told

By FWi staff

ARABLE farmers launching a last-ditch plea for government help warned that the crisis facing their sector is the worst in living memory.

About 60 farmers lobbied MPs at the House of Parliament on Tuesday (16 October), asking for aid to shore up the crisis-hit arable sector.

Cereal growers, led National Farmers Union president Ben Gill, travelled to London from across the country to press their case.

Mr Gill said: “The situation for UK arable farmers today is worse than at any time in living memory.”

The lobby was part of a fight for 57 million in aid to help offset the strong Pound, which has driven down the value of subsidies set in Euros.

The deadline for the aid, which is available from the European Union but must be part-funded by the UK government, runs out in two weeks.

NFU cereal committee chairman Richard Butler said: “Anyone who believes that arable farmers are undeserving is entirely wrong.

“We came to Parliament today to put a human face to the story, to try to show MPs what it has really been like recently for cereal farmers.

Cereal farmers have been hit by a series of problems recently, but the situation has plumbed new lows this autumn.

The main factor is the strength of Sterling, which has sucked in imports, hit exports and slashed support prices.

Without the appreciation of Sterling in recent years, the NFU claims that UK farmers would be receiving an additional 84/ha in aid.

The wheat harvest is about 30% down because of bad weather last winter.

To make matters worse, low market prices are expected to drop further with the abolition of import tariffs on grain from Eastern Europe.


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