§ Mr. Wigley
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now introduce an income maintenance scheme to guarantee to those farmers affected by radiation from the Chernobyl disaster that their level of income will be sustained at a level equivalent, in real terms, to their average income of the three years prior to the Chernobyl disaster, and that this will be guaranteed for however long their farming is affected by radiation consequences of Chernobyl.
§ Mr. Gummer
In full consultation with the farmers' unions, the Government introduced three compensation schemes to assist sheep producers whose enterprises have suffered disruption from the movement and slaughter restrictions introduced in the wake of the Chernobyl incident. These schemes covered losses of variable premium and market price on lambs; losses in market price on all sheep which needed to be marked under the release scheme; and a third element, in the form of a headage payment, to assist in meeting the extra costs incurred by producers in retaining sheep on farms beyond their normal marketing dates. The second of these schemes, which is still in operation and has no termination date, was modified recently to provide for individual lot valuations.
As a further step, we expect to be announcing shortly details of an additional compensation scheme reflecting the extra costs of handling sheep prior to release from the restricted areas.322W
These arrangements, and our efforts to ensure that producers' husbandry and marketing patterns are disrupted as little as possible, mean that a further scheme to guarantee returns at historic levels would be inappropriate.