NFU calls for equal treatment

The NFU has called for the government to give match the aid given to sheep farmers in Scotland.

NFU livestock board chairman, Thomas Binns, renewed his call for equal support and treatment to sheep farmers in England and Wales after the EU Commission gave the green light for the Scottish government to pay £19m to help Scottish sheep farmers recover from the ravages of foot and mouth disease.

The EU decision means that sheep farmers in Scotland can look forward to receiving one-off payments worth £6 per ewe to help ease the financial crisis brought on by the FMD outbreak and its associated movement restrictions and export ban.

Mr Binns believes the move by the Commission leaves the Defra Secretary of State Hilary Benn with no option other than to insist that similar assistance and treatment is extended to English and Welsh farmers.

He said: "Under EU rules, the application for EU state aid approval must have been made by Hilary Benn. That being so, to be both consistent and fair, he must now make a similar application on behalf of sheep farmers in England and Wales.

"They have suffered just as badly from the export ban and other FMD-related restrictions and controls as sheep farmers in Scotland, and have every right to expect a similar level of assistance and support."

"Hilary Benn has already recognised the force of that argument in the limited support he has provided for the less favoured areas. But all sheep farmers, not just some sheep farmers, have suffered massive income losses on the back of FMD and we desperately need an immediate all-inclusive measure, funded by the Treasury for the whole of Great Britain, to help get the industry back on its feet."

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