Sheep farmers oppose buy-up plan

19 October 2001

Sheep farmers oppose buy-up plan

By Alistair Driver

SHEEP farmers have vowed to oppose any government plans to buy up sheep quota in a bid to cut the size of the national flock.

National Sheep Association John Thorley said the scheme proposed by rural recovery co-ordinator Lord Haskins would damage the industry.

If it reduced the flock so the industry can get better returns there would be some advantage, said Mr Thorley.

But if it reduces the number of flocks the remaining farmers will keep more animals on bigger farms. Large farmers will take over.

It is another form of madness and makes little sense to us. We will certainly be opposing it.

Mr Thorley denied that this sheep industry is over-supplied. And he insisted that bigger and fewer farms would be bad for animal welfare.

He refused to be drawn on whether he thought he Lord Haskins was deliberately trying to reduce the number of British farmers.

But he warned that there are some people, led by the environmental lobby, who would like to see this happen.

The National Farmers Union has also expressed its concern over the recommendation in Lord Haskins rural recovery report.

Lord Haskins has advised the government to pay sheep farmers to give up their subsidy quota in a one-off scheme to reduce sheep numbers.

Over-stocking is a serious environmental problem, and does not make economic sense, his report says.

Lord Haskins has insisted that the scheme is an opportunity for producers to cut down the size of their flocks rather than take early retirement.


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