Five percent set-aside on the cards
A SET-ASIDE rate of 5% looks likely next season following initial discussions in Luxembourg this week.
German minister Jochen Borchert said the rate should be not less than 5% while Frances Louis le Pensec said it should be not more than 5%. The UK suggested a rate between 0 and 5%.
All ministers called for an early announcement to give their farmers time to plan plantings. EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler said he was prepared to match last years timetable with a proposal in June for a decision in July.
Two contradictory forces will influence the actual rate put forward. With EU intervention stocks likely to top 10m tonnes by the end of this season, Mr Fischler may be tempted to go for higher set-aside.
But that could send the wrong signals at a time when the commission is aiming to cut prices by 20% as part of its Agenda 2000 reforms. So on balance, a set-aside rate of 5% looks likely.