19 December 1997

Euro-spud regime off

DEVELOPMENT of a European lightweight potato regime seems to be off the political agenda for at least a year following the Governments decision not to seek reform during its forthcoming six-month presidency of the EU.

NFU potato committee chairman, Richard Watson Jones, said he was bitterly disappointed at the decision. "We have been imploring government to put a lightweight potato regime high on the list of priorities for the presidency.

"We met Lord Donoughue (junior farm minister) a couple of weeks ago, and have just had his formal response telling us that the potato regime would not be raised," Mr Watson Jones said. The Government priority for the six months, starting on Jan 1, is to push ahead with CAP reform.

The NFU would continue to lobby EU farm ministers, Mr Watson Jones added.

conceded that unless the UK took the initiative during its presidency then reform would be off the agenda for at least a year. Austria assumes the presidency after the UK and has no interest in the potato regime, he added.