Letter: Unnatural farming

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Michael McCarthy ("Why Britain's farmers are making a loss on nearly everything they grow", 28 August) is quite wrong in stating that the Government "abruptly scrapped" the calf processing aid scheme at the start of this month. This compensatory scheme was in fact extended twice beyond its original cut-off date and the Government made it quite clear, on numerous occasions, that there was no possibility of its being extended for a third time.

When the scheme was first extended, there were suggestions that it would be better to phase out the payment by reducing it from pounds 56 per head to, say, pounds 20 and extending the period of payment accordingly. However, the National Farmers' Union insisted that the payment must continue at the full rate. So if anybody is to blame for the "sudden" withdrawal of this benefit at a particularly bad time, it is the farmers themselves.


Worthing, West Sussex