14 July 1995

EU pulse commitment

VISITORS to the British Edible Pulse Associations annual open day at the Processors and Growers Research Organisation on Tuesday (July 11) were heartened to hear that the EU had made a commitment to investigate the problem of low profits in the pulse sector.

Brussels is currently looking at introducing a world pricing mechanism similar to the oilseeds regime. That would raise aid when the world protein price falls and could be implemented for next years crop.

But the trade reckons that is not enough. Instead of meeting world price fluctuations, it is the £125/ha (£50/acre) difference in margin between pulses and winter wheat that needs closing, stressed BEPA secretary Colin Smith of John Manners.

Growers had been turning away from the crop, he said. Traders claimed an 18% slump in area this year and expected the same next year. That would hit rotations, suck in protein imports and curtail export opportunities.

BEPA, merchant body UKASTA and the NFU are, therefore, seeking to re-dress the balance of cereal and pulse aid. At a meeting in Brussels this week, the lobbyists called for aid to be lifted from 78.49ecu/t to 102.6ecu/t. That would push payments from £388/ha (£157/acre) to £508/ha (£205/acre) in England.