7 March 1997

Arable aid is big EU target

PLANS to slash arable area aid this harvest are back on the Brussels agenda.

Launching the 1997/98 price proposals this week, EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler warned that the current budget gave little room for manoeuvre. As such, arable aid cuts to fund the beef emergency package, should be considered again.

The plans include a 7.9% reduction in cereal aid, a 4.4% fall for oilseeds and a sharp 26.8% drop in set-aside payments. This would provide an extra £1.1bn.

Area aid cuts were thrown out by farm ministers last year. But Mr Fischler warned that, if that happened again, savings would have to be found elsewhere.

Within the price package itself, the commission has proposed a roll-over of existing support.

Franz Fischler: Savings neded.