7 October 1999
Growers can expect painful changes

WHATEVER is decided at the forthcoming World Trade Organisation talks, it is unlikely to be worse than what British growers have already experienced, says a cereals expert.

Alastair Dickie of the Home-Grown Cereal Authority (HGCA) made this prediction as trade leaders prepare for WTO negotiations in Seattle next month.

He told BBCs Farming Today:“British growers have already gone through fairly severe and painful changes in the past few years.

“There was a fairly dramatic drop in farm incomes over the last two years.

“So arguably, what is in front of us in the next two years unlikely to be very much worse than what theyve just experienced.”

In Seattle the US will be pushing for an end to subsidies and a freer trading environment.

Members would have a structured support system and there would be a world market with less government intervention.

“Provided aid and support mechanisms are in correctly in place it ought to be positive for the industry,” said Mr Dickie.

“It will enable us to access world markets and learn more clearly what the worlds consumers are wanting to buy from us.”

Consumers would also benefit, he claims, as they would be paying world prices instead of potentially higher domestic EU prices.

He added: “If we have middle road, which is more predictable, it will then slightly better than todays situation.”