10 July 2001
Virus welfare payment cuts expected
By Donald MacPhail
FARMERS are bracing themselves for another cut to payments for stock slaughtered on welfare grounds in areas caught up in foot-and-mouth restrictions.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is set to announce revised payments under the Livestock Welfare (Disposal) Scheme (LWDS).
This was introduced to alleviate overcrowding and other welfare problems created on farms in foot-and-mouth restricted areas.
A spokeswoman said details had still to be finalised with the Treasury, but conceded that some categories seem set to be cut.
There is likely to be reductions to certain, though not necessarily all rates, to reflect market and seasonal factors, she said.
Pressure has been growing to reduce payments to encourage farmers to take advantage of relaxed controls on sending stock from infected areas for slaughter.
The number of animals entering the scheme has dropped steeply since restrictions eased and some LWDS payments were reduced on 30 April.
But with all British red meat exports banned, many farmers are still relying on the scheme and will be badly hit by further reductions.
Many producers with cull sows — which had been exported to the Continent but are virtually worthless in the UK — had hoped to enter the animals into the scheme.
And in the autumn store lambs, many of which would normally be destined for the overseas market, will begin to move for fattening.
But with movement restrictions in place, it was expected that many would enter the LWDS.
At a Meat and Livestock Commission conference on Monday (09 July) DEFRA meat trade advisor Mike Roper said cuts may be in sheep payments.
On 30 April sow payments were cut from 75 a head to 30 and new season lamb rates fell from 42 a head to a maximum of 32.
An announcement is expected from DEFRA on Tuesday or Wednesday.
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