22 August 1997
NFUs OTMS plan lacks support
By FW reporters
THE NFUs livestock advisory committee has rejected the unions proposal to cut the Over Thirty-Month Scheme (OTMS) payment rate by 6.6p/kg for cull cows and clean cattle in return for the removal of the 560kg payment ceiling.
The NFU wont make a decision on whether to put forward the scheme to the Government until all regions have been consulted. This is not expected to be completed until the middle of next week.
But initial indications suggest members think the proposal is unacceptable. Apart from the NFU livestock advisory committee, the West Midlands branch has also rejected it and the Welsh division looks set to follow suit.
Other regions are still filtering their responses back to NFU headquarters, but the general feeling is that more farmers will lose than gain from the proposal.
Although farmers agree that the current price structure is unfair, those with lighter cows such as dairy producers will be reluctant to vote for the plan, which will see their payments cut to fund suckler producers with heavier cows.
Questions have also been raised about what figures the NFU used to arrive at their proposed alternative to the OTMS weight limit. The NFU has signed a confidentiality clause with MAFF over the figures.
Information obtained by Farmers Weekly suggests that the NFU only obtained monthly numbers and average weights of cattle entering the OTMS from the Intervention Board on Tuesday – which brings into question what figures the NFU used to formulate its proposal a week and a half ago.