26 March 1999

Degressivity back

DEGRESSIVITY – the process by which direct aid payments to farmers would be cut annually – was back on the agenda as heads of government met in Berlin this week.

After the agreement by farm ministers two weeks ago on the details of CAP reform, there has been a growing realisation that the aim of stabilising the agricultural budget over the next six years has not been met.

The EU Commissions own figures put the cost of reform k7bn (£4.7bn) ahead of target.

Various models for reining in the excess have been tabled. The most recent suggests cutting arable payments by 2% a year and beef payments by 1%, starting in 2000. Producers receiving less than k5000 (£3350) a year would be exempt.

As farmers weekly went to press on Wednesday, (Mar 24), it was not clear if this would be adopted. It also remained to be seen whether any attempt would be made to unpick the deal already reached on agriculture.