25 September 1998

Brown goes one-to-one

to get export ban lifted

By Jonathan Riley

FARM minister Nick Brown is to meet his EU counterparts individually to press the case for getting the beef export ban lifted.

On his return from the informal farm council in Austria this week, where he met other EU farm ministers for the first time, he said there had been encouraging talks.

His spokesman said the informal council was not a forum for political debate but Mr Brown had talked to his colleagues about the efforts to ensure British beef was safe. He now planned to fly to a number of EU capitals to meet ministers on a one-to-one basis.

At the council meeting, EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler warned of turmoil on the worlds financial and food markets which could affect CAP reform proposals.

The EU Commission had ordered studies on market prospects and farmers incomes, which would be made available to member states during negotiations on the Agenda 2000 proposals.

But whether or not that would mean the commission would have to alter its proposals for cutting guaranteed prices to farmers, Mr Fischler said: "We need to assess all the complexities. We may well not have to amend our proposals."

Indeed, he added, there was little scope for change in the planned cuts for beef, cereals and milk.

Meanwhile, Mr Brown has released a paper on the UKs alternative proposal for milk reform, prepared in conjunction with Denmark, Sweden and Italy.

It recommends a six-year programme for phasing out milk quotas in preference to the 15% cuts in dairy support over four years as proposed by the commission.

He said the aim was to devise a reform which would allow the EU dairy industry to participate fully in world markets. &#42