16 February 1998
Farm ministers meet in Brussels

FARM ministers meet in Brussels today (Monday) and tomorrow to discuss reform of Europes tobacco regime.

The European Commission proposes to persuade growers to shift production to higher-quality tobacco, and also to allow growers to sell their quotas enabling them to leave the industry.

The reform is expected to gain member states support where production is concentrated. But there is concern about the potential job losses in rural areas.

Ministers are also due to hold the annual debate over fixing agricultural support prices. It is proposed that prices be largely unchanged in 1998-99.

The meeting comes amid rising hopes that a breakthrough is near on a veterinary equivalency deal to boost trade. An agreement would permit the United States and the European Union to give each other more authority to check meat and meat products before they are traded.

  • Financial Times 16/02/98 page 27, page 40