12 May 1998
Cattle traceability costs back on the agenda
By Catherine Hughes
A REPORT calling on taxpayers to pay the running costs of the cattle traceability system (CTS) until the financial position of beef farmers improves, was today (Tuesday) rejected by Government.
Responding to the Commons agricultural committees third report on the UK beef industry, the Government stipulated that it would only meet the running costs of the CTS for one year.
Earlier this year, Government agreed to pay the entire CTS set up costs and running costs for one year only, after farmers held demonstrations throughout the country over various issues.
The report also called on Government to reinstate support to the rendering industry until market conditions for beef by-products improve.
But the Government rejected this recommendation, saying it would be equivalent to writing the industry a blank cheque, and that it was not in a position to do so. The phasing-out of support has allowed rendering businesses to adjust over a period of time, and to reintroduce aid would be a backward step, the Government said.
The committee also expressed concerned that the calf processing aid scheme had resulted in the UK bearing the brunt of an EU-wide need to reduce beef over-production, which may compromise the future prospects of the UK beef industry once conditions return to normal.
The Government agreed with this comment and said that the scheme, open to all member states, was suppose to cease in December, and that it would be consulting industry on any future schemes.