Foot-and-mouth farmers to get £12.5m

The government has announced a package of support for farmers affected by the current foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) movement restrictions.

The secretary of state for the environment, Hilary Benn, has announced a package of support, worth £12.5m, for farmers in England affected by the current movement restrictions in place to control FMD.

This package of assistance for farmers in England will encompass:

* £8.5m in the form of a one off payment for hill farmers;

* £1m to raise the level of subsidy for the National Fallen Stock Scheme for farmers in the FMD Risk Area from 10% to 100%. This will be available to all livestock keepers in the FMD Risk Area;

* A contribution of up to £1m to the Arthur Rank Centre for disbursement to farming charities, which provide advice and practical and emotional support to farming families; and

* £2m for promotion and marketing of lamb, beef and pork both domestically and in export markets.

Hilary Benn also outlined measures to relieve the burden of red tape on farmers affected:

* Seeking a derogation from the European Commission for grassland farmers to apply above the annual nitrogen application limit of 170kg/ha, which is one of the requirements for farmers in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones;

* Failure to meet cross compliance and agri-environment scheme requirements will not be regarded as a breach by Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency, if these are directly due to FMD;

* Agreement at EU-level on 3 October to raise the age at which vertebral column of cattle is considered Specified Risk Material from 24 to 30 months and which will facilitate the sale from butchers of beef from animals in this age bracket;

* Encouraging the public sector to increase opportunities for small and local producers to tender for public sector business.

Benn said: "The measures we have taken to date to ease restrictions in the Low Risk Area through farm to farm movements and the reopening of markets have relieved some of the problems faced by farmers, and the resumption of exports of meat from parts of the country will assist further. I have announced this help worth £12.5m to further alleviate the difficulties faced by the industry.

"This outbreak of FMD has been a tremendous blow to farming, especially as it has happened at the time of year when the majority of livestock farmers need to move their animals to generate income. The impact of this outbreak on the farming community has been significant and we have listened to the views of the industry in taking these and other steps to alleviate the economic and welfare pressures they face."

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