24 April 2001
Minister insists compensation is fair
By FWi staff
AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown has denied that farmers compensated for foot-and-mouth disease received a raw deal during the first month of the crisis.
The system was not perfect, he admitted, before issuing a warning to farmers who are appealing to have earlier payment rates increased.
Many producers whose livestock were slaughtered before standard payments were introduced on 28 March believe they received unfair compensation.
The government introduced the compensation rates to speed up the cull when it became clear that individually valuing each animal was taking to long.
The rates were generous, equivalent to about 600 for steers, 1100 for breeding cows, 90 for breeding ewes and 150 for rams.
But Mr Brown said the higher standard valuations did not mean earlier valuations were somehow wrong even thought many farmers think they are.
I do not think it should be automatically assumed that the most generous rate applies, he told the Agriculture Select Committee on Monday (23 April).
Standard valuations were set to ensure farmers would use it to speed up the cull and to help farmers who had lost stock, he claimed.
Mr Brown told MPs: As the disease has progressed, the replacement value also looks to have moved.
Producers can still choose to have their livestock valued individually but about 75% of farmers in England have opted for standard valuation, he said.
Mr Brown also indicated that he may review the rates paid for animals entered into the governments welfare disposal scheme.
It had been suggested that the rates were high enough to encourage farmers to enter animals into the scheme rather than send them into the food chain.
Mr Brown said: It is not the governments intention to create an alternative market. The government is keeping rates of payment under review.
Animals could only be entered into the scheme if they were suffering from genuine welfare problems, he added.
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