Give your animals away, farmers told
Western Daily Mail April 28, 2001
FARMERS whose livestock has been trapped by the foot-and-mouth restrictions were dealt another devastating blow last night.
The Agriculture Ministry said that if farmers could no longer afford to feed the animals, they would just have to give them away.
Officials say that from Monday a lack of money for feed will be classed as a welfare issue and the Government will remove and destroy the animals free of charge, but the farmers will be paid nothing for them.
The edict followed hard on the heels of Agriculture Minister Nick Browns decision to slash compensation to farmers for slaughtered stock and brought immediate condemnation from West farmers leader Richard Haddock.
He said it was a further example of the Government trying to starve out farmers. He said: "This is going to ruin people. They have been desperately trying to survive all these eight weeks, feeding animals they cant move because of the restrictions and hoping at the end of it they would at least be able to sell them and recover some money.
"Now that is all going to be wiped out. It is a complete scandal. It is another example of how this Government is using the crisis
to clear farmers off the land."
The NFU is seriously concerned at the decision to cut millions off the cull payments and has asked for a meeting with Mr Brown to discuss his move.
Payments will drop by £40.a head for pigs and £15 for sheep, with scaled reductions for cattle, but the reductions will affect hundreds of farmers who already have animals entered in the cull schemes.
Devon farmer Michael Hart said he would be £17,000 out of pocket as a result.
"I have got a thousand sheep and the price will come down from £45 to £27," he said. "Before this I was selling at £55 so £55 wasnt too bad. But £27 is sickening. Its just penny-pinching and its all the worse when you think how much money they have already wasted."
More than 394,000 animals have already been slaughtered but there is a backlog of a million waiting for disposal. All of them will now be valued at the lower rates.
Ministers say the new levels are pitched at about 70 per cent of current market prices, but NFU spokesman Ian Johnson said the reductions were a severe blow for many farmers.
"We are seeking talks with the Minister so we can understand precisely how these figures have been arrived at," he said.