Friday, 18 January 2008

Rural Affairs: Farmers' £40m foot-and-mouth bill

Further proof has been discovered that the Welsh Assembly Government has little influence with that of Gordon Brown's Cabinet.

The foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2007 may have cost Welsh farmers more than £40m, a Welsh assembly committee has found.

The Finance Committee also highlighted an ongoing dispute between the governments in Cardiff and London over who should pay any compensation. A separate assembly report concluded the UK Treasury should compensate Welsh farmers.

The foot-and-mouth outbreak was discovered in Surrey in August, but there were no cases in Wales. However, the outbreak had an impact on the rural economy across the whole of the UK.
Restrictions were placed on the movement and trade of animals following the August outbreak and a second one in September.

Farmers in Wales did not automatically receive compensation because no animals were slaughtered due to the disease, but the Welsh assembly's finance committee said "the effect on the Welsh farming industry was immediate and severe".
The restrictions meant animals could not be sent to the abattoir which lead to a loss of income and the additional cost of feed.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) Wales put the cost "in excess of £40m".

The Finance Committee, which is made up of AMs from all parties, pointed to evidence the outbreak came from a research facility at Pirbright that was licensed by the UK government.
The assembly government has already agreed extra funding for aid schemes including one to promote red meat.

But the AMs noted that just over half of the £7m allocated to the schemes had actually been spent.

The Finance Committee recommended the assembly government undertake a "full and detailed assessment of the costs of the outbreak" and that ministers make "significant additional funding available". The AMs were concerned the level of support being offered to Welsh farmers seemed to be far less than their counterparts in Scotland.

Dai Davies, President of NFU Wales, said they were asking for similar compensation for farmers as in Scotland:

Farmers in Wales have received just under £2m from the Welsh assembly. Farmers in Scotland will be receiving £27m. The sheep industry in Wales is a far bigger industry than it is in Scotland. We face the same problems. Hill farmers are facing a winter having lost half their income, why should we be treated any differently?


Anonymous 18 January 2008 at 12:00  

This has been put on the backburner after Elin Jones' good start as Minister.

Anonymous 18 January 2008 at 12:10  

The WAG shouldn't go cap in hand to the UK Government every time it finds itself in a bit of a dilemma.

Jon 18 January 2008 at 12:14  

True. It should learn to cope with managing a budget. That's partly what governance is all about.

Gareth 18 January 2008 at 12:17  

It was the UK Government which bears responsibility for releasing the virus in the first place - by cutting corners in the maintenance of the drainage infrastructure of the animal diseases research site at Pirbright.

Powys 18 January 2008 at 12:21  

This committee is telling us what we know already. We need to discover what will be done about it and the Assembly Government is rather quiet on the matter.

Underneath the sun 18 January 2008 at 13:06  

Even Glyn Davies has written on this from holiday in Barbados. Now that's passion for politics and farming.

Anonymous 18 January 2008 at 19:37  

Of course Wales doesn't have much influence in London .... that's why it needs independence.

Anonymous 18 January 2008 at 20:12  

More of WAG Labour doesn't have influence with Gordon Brown's Labour. Unless the assiatance isn't there on purpose to demonstrate to Plaid that government isn't easy.

Mutton dressed as Lamb 19 January 2008 at 12:57  

But the money in Scotland has been found by Salmond from the budget of the Scottish Executive. In England Benn had to find the money from DEFRA's budget and he wasn't given what he wanted by the Treasury. It is wrong to imply that somehow Wales is losing out. The real question which Paul Flynn often poses is why should farming be treated differently from any other private sector industry.It would be interesting to see how many people in Wales for example actually eat Welsh lamb. If WAG wanted to compensate the farmers it could because there is enough money in the balances. You can't argue for more powers and then go running to Westminster when the going gets tough.

tell it as it is 19 January 2008 at 13:52  

"You can't argue for more powers and then go running to Westminster when the going gets tough"

How true that is. The trouble with the Assembly is that it blames Westminster when it falls at the first hurdle, and that is often the first call of Plaid Cymru members.

Rhodri's wig 21 January 2008 at 11:23  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Miss Wagstaff 21 January 2008 at 11:34  

Sorry, had to remove that last comment by 'Rhodri's Wig' due to the swear word and its context. Please feel free to post again without it. Thanks.

Rhodri's Wig 21 January 2008 at 11:50  

Pathetic. It's all 'clear red water' and 'we won't do the same as England out of spite' unless... er... there's a few quid involved, in which case it's 'Evil England kills our cows'. What a shower

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