11 January 2002

Further aid for French farmers

FRENCH farm minister Jean Glavany has announced another aid package – this time worth k150m (£93m) – to help beef producers cope with the fall-out from the BSE crisis in France.

When he met beef industry representatives in Paris on Monday (Jan 7), Mr Glavany said the money would be spent in three ways.

About k81m will be targeted at 40,000 beef farmers most affected by the BSE crisis. They will receive lump-sum payments of around k1000 each by the end of March, with top-ups for those in greatest difficulty, subject to a financial check-up.

But French farm leaders attacked the level of aid as "derisory" and said it fell well short of the needs of producers.

The new package is the third time the Paris government has stepped in to bail out producers. At the start of the crisis it paid them k352m in cheap loans and social security concessions, and followed this up last February with k137m in interest rate subsidies and suckler cow premium top-ups.

&#8226 UK farmers get less government help than other European producers, according to a Brussels study. The second such report by the commission, it shows that total state aid to British agriculture comes to less than 0.1% of gross domestic product, compared with 1% in Finland and 0.8% in Ireland. &#42