Scots farmers demand sheep aid

28 June 2001

Scots farmers demand sheep aid

By FWi staff

SCOTTISH farmers have called for new measures to support the sheep sector in the face of a continuing ban on exports because of foot-and-mouth disease.

Jim Walker, President of the National Farmers Union Scotland, issued the plea at the NFUS annual conference on Thursday (28 June).

“The export ban… will have a particularly devastating effect on Scottish sheep producers because of our dependence on export markets,” he said.

Mr Walker said union officials had been discussing a foot-and-mouth recovery plan with the Scottish Executive and UK Government.

Scottish farmers have suffered from a loss of markets, a reduction in sheep annual premium (SAP) payments, he said.

A cut in the safety net for less favoured area (LFA) payments to 80% would also combine to have a devastating effect on thousands of sheep producers.

“We are pressing for a package of measures to protect this beleaguered
sector which is so important to Scotland – particularly in remote areas.”

NFU Scotland wants an SAP top-up permitted under European Union rules and the maintenance of a 90% safety net for LFA support next year.

Mr Walker also called for a welfare disposal scheme for lambs and ewes which can find no market and private storage aid for sheepmeat products.

“Both [the] government and retailers must use their purchasing power to buy home produced lamb instead of imported product,” he said.

The idea of a voluntary quota buy-back for those wishing to reduce numbers could also provide a valuable lifeline for some farmers.

“For too long mixed messages have encouraged some producers into patterns
of production which in many cases have become unsustainable.”

NFU Scotland was determined to achieve long term solutions for the sheep sector which was in difficulties even before foot-and-mouth, said Mr Walker.

“Short term help for sheep producers is vital if the goal of long term stability is to be realised. No-one should under-estimate the scale of this challenge.”


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