Light lamb glut buy-up on cards

20 July 2001




Light lamb glut buy-up on cards

By Donald MacPhail

and Alistair Driver

THE government is considering buying up lighter lambs to avoid a glut of unwanted animals flooding the market.

In the longer term it is thinking about buying quota which would provide producers with income and reduce the national flock.

These were among the options ministers are considering set out by junior DEFRA minister Lord Whitty in a written parliamentary answer on Wednesday (July 18). He said ministers hope to have a strategy in place to help sheep producers before the end of July which would apply from Sept 1 onwards.

Lighter lambs would be entered into a modified version of the Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme under the proposals.

Farmers say they face ruin unless they can find a domestic market for up to 2m lighter lambs which weigh under 14kg. These are popular in Italy and France, but cannot be sold overseas because of the foot-and-mouth export ban, and there is little home demand.

Ministers will look at marketing options, such as lamb promotions to boost domestic demand.

Lord Whitty also set out other options being considered to help revitalise the sheep industry. Livestock markets could take place in some counties which are free of the disease and there could be a relaxation of movements outside infected areas.

NFU director general Richard McDonald said proposed government help for the sheep sector is a very very important issue.

A buy up scheme for cull ewes is also needed, he told an NFU council meeting in London on Wednesday.

In a policy document it backs controversial proposals for the government to buy up sheep quota in an "outgoers" scheme for farmers.

"There will be producers in the UK who want to seriously consider reducing the size of their sheep flock," it says. It goes on to say a flock reduction programme based on quota buy-up could form part of a long-term restructuring plan . &#42

Dear Mr Blair,

Since you have taken a personal interest in the tragedy that is foot-and-mouth and, at one point, direct control of its handling, please make a firm commitment now to hold a full public inquiry into the F&M crisis.

As you are well aware, the epidemic has caused untold anguish within farming and rural communities, taken millions of animals lives and has cost our economy billions of £s.

For the sakes of those who have lost everything, even loved ones, please give them the consolation of knowing now that you are committed to a full, robust public inquiry.

After the carnage that has unfolded in our countryside, how could you deny such a request?

We look forward to speedy confirmation of your decision.

Yours sincerely,

Name…………………………………………………………………………………

Occupation…………………………………………………………………………

Address………………………………………………………………………………

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Please return your letters to Inquiry Please, farmers weekly, FREEPOST (CN 2908), Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5BR.

Or why not fax your response on 020 8652 4005. Please feel free to photocopy this form so that friends and family can take part too. You can also email your opinions via our web-site, Farmers Weekly Interactive, fwi.co.uk


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