Duties on certain cereals imported into the EU will be suspended from next week in a bid to ease rising feed grain prices.

The suspension relates to existing tariff rate quotas for low and medium quality wheat and barley, worth €12/t and €16/t respectively (£10-13). These tariffs will be reduced to zero until at least the end of June 2011.

“I hope this proposal will reduce tensions on the European cereals market,” EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos said. “While prices remain high on world and EU markets we have an obligation to do what we can to help ease the situation until the end of the marketing year.”

Wheat futures hit a new high on Monday (14 February) after another bullish report by the US Department of Agriculture. Prices have come back gradually since then, with March and November 2011 futures priced at £199.50/t and £172.55/t respectively at the time of writing on Friday morning (18 February).

The Commission predicted world cereal prices would remain high in the 2010/11 season, largely because world cereals ending stocks would be 62m tonnes lower than at the end of the last marketing year.

What to do about rising food price inflation is likely to be high on the agenda when finance ministers from 20 of the world’s biggest developed and developing countries meet in Paris later today.