By FW staff

FRENCH oilseed and protein producers have stepped up their campaign for a better rate of area aid, fearful that Agenda 2000 proposals will wipe out their profits.

The current commission plans would move oilseed area aid in line with cereals, while paying just a Euro6.5/t (£4.56/t) premium for proteins.

This would lead to at least a 10% drop in revenue to growers and a 30% reduction in the sown area, according to Jean-Claude Sabin, chairman of the French Federation of Oilseed and Protein Producers (FOP).

This was despite the fact the EU had a 75% deficit in vegetable proteins and a 40% deficit in vegetable oils, he told a Paris press conference yesterday (Wednesday).

“We have never expected to be self sufficient, but we do wish to be able to meet a better share of our own requirements,” he said.

As such, his organisation was proposing a new package to the commission. For proteins, this would involve increasing the aid premium to Euro20/t (£14/t), as well as a safety net mechanism to deal with price fluctuations.

For oilseeds, the situation was more complex due to the Blair House agreement, which penalised the EU if it planted more than the 4.9m ha maximum guaranteed area (MGA). Mr Sabin suggested maintaining oilseed area aid at current levels for production up to the MGA, with the lower cereal aid rate paid on excess production.

Mr Sabin said such an arrangement already had legal clearance and was supported by EU oilseed processors association, FEDIOL.

Senior civil servants, meeting in the so-called “high-level group”, are due to start final negotiations on arable reform in Brussels next week. It is not yet clear whether the new French proposal will feature in their discussions.