30 July 2001
Welcome for sheep storage aid
By Robert Harris
FARMERS leaders have welcomed a European Commission announcement to provide private storage aid for sheep meat.
The scheme will be open to tenders from the trade from 27 August, allowing successful applicants to freeze meat and store it for up to seven months.
The aim is to take immediate pressure off the market. Lambs will be released to compete with New Zealand lamb later in the season.
Private storage aid will make an “important contribution” in the fight to stabilise the market, said National Farmers Union deputy president Tim Bennett.
“Britains sheep industry has been hit very hard by the tight movement restrictions placed on livestock farmers and the closure of all our export markets.
“We are pleased that the [European Union] has offered Britains farmers this desperately needed help.”
Jim Walker, NFU Scotland president, said the scheme would come as some relief to farmers desperately trying to market their lambs.
But retailers and caterers must sell this lamb in preference to imported product when it comes back onto the market early next year, he added.
Mr Walker also welcomed signals from the Scottish Executive that it intends to adapt the welfare disposal scheme to include unmarketable light lambs.
“We are thrashing out details with the government and are determined to ensure the scheme is practical, realistic and can be opened as quickly as possible.”