07 August 1998
Farming leaders attack decision
to end calf scheme
THE Governments decision to axe the calf slaughter scheme from 30 November has been attacked by farming leaders. But MAFF may be trying to get a “sweetener” from the Treasury to mollify farmers and allow the scheme to be ended on the quiet.
The scheme was processing about 500,000 calves a year, costing taxpayers around £50 million. But, while many believe farm minister Nick Brown, who last week put the closure down to cost-saving, Farmers Weekly understands that MAFF is in discussion with the Treasury to try to secure about £50m of agrimonetary aid for the cattle sector.
It is unclear how the money, seen as a sweetener to allow the calf scheme to be disbanded without too much fuss from farmers leaders, will be distributed. There is no apparent mechanism available to pay any to dairy farmers – the main users of the calf scheme.
If the cash is allocated to the beef sector, through beef special premium and/or suckler cow premium payments, the old divisions between upland and lowland producers will undoubtedly surface again. Another option could be to fund a national fallen stock collection service.
Browns massive body-blow to farmers – NFU, FWi, 29 July