25 July 2001
DEFRA probes foot-and-mouth ‘fiddles’
By Alistair Driver
THE government has confirmed that it is investigating allegations that farmers hit by foot-and-mouth have made excessive compensation claims.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said an inquiry would examine whether farmers were over-claiming for lost livestock.
Evidence suggested that too much money may have been paid to producers and livestock valuers, said a departmental spokeswoman.
“We are alert to the possibility of excessive claims from farmers and/or valuers and are keeping matters under review,” she added.
There are suggestions that standard compensation rates set by the government for culled livestock are being used as minimum prices by some valuers.
The standard rates, which were introduced in March, were set deliberately high to help speed up the valuation and compensation process.
Ministers could scrap the standard tariffs paid for different categories of livestock because of fears they are too high, said the spokeswoman.
She added: “We are considering appointing expert valuers to advise on high and disputed valuations.”
Almost 5 million out of 870m paid out under the compensation scheme has been paid to livestock valuers, according to The Independent newspaper.
Valuers are paid 1% commission for every valuation they carry out, with a minimum fee for a days work of 500 and a maximum of 1500, it claims.
Farmers are nominating valuers who put a higher price on livestock, it adds.
The paper claims that low-grade animals which would otherwise make little money are making over 1,000 because official rates are vague.
The government is already investigating concerns that it has been over-charged by farmers and contractors for clean-up operations on farms.
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- Blair clamps down on virus clean-up, FWi, 23 July, 2001
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