3 November 1995

French repay aid

FRENCH pig producers have now repaid 19,000 ecu (£16,000) of illegal aid received under the Stabiporc and other loan schemes.

The schemes operated during the summer of 1993 and were exposed by the National Farmers Union and British Pig Association in October 1993.

After sustained pressure from both bodies the European Commission investigated the schemes and ruled that the French government should recoup aid from its pig producers.

Chief executive of the BPA, Grenville Welsh, says: "This payment is derisory when up to 330m francs (£43m) was made available to French producers when pig prices were at their lowest."

NFU pig adviser Dafydd Owen says: "The payments helped the French industry expand by up to 6% while our industry contracted by more than 3%.

Now, French producers are paying back money at a time when prices are high. "Nevertheless, this is the first time the EC has exercised its powers in this way and hopefully will act as a disincentive to governments that may be considering other such schemes.

"In the meantime we shall continue to press for every last drop of blood from the French and it is important to maintain the pressure on them to do so," says Mr Owen.