Modest cut conceded
BRITAIN is determined that pig and poultry producers should benefit from any set-aside cutbacks this year.
It will champion their case forcibly when EU farm ministers meet next month to discuss the EU Commission proposal to reduce set-aside from 12% to 10%.
Though prepared to concede a "modest" cut in set-aside, the UK will insist it should be linked with firm internal market mechanisms that will allow intensive livestock producers adequate supplies of grain at reasonable prices.
It will be up against countries such as France, which favours more drastic measures such as halving set-aside to just 6%. As justification for a big cutback, they point to the EUs 5m tonne grain export shortfall from the maximum allowed under the world trade agreement this year.
But the UKs case for ensuring EU livestock producers benefit before export markets could well attract the powerful backing of EU presidency, Spain. Much to UK producers resentment, Spanish livestock farmers had to receive emergency help from UK intervention stocks earlier this year.
Aware of arable farmers needs to decide cropping plans, UK farm minister Douglas Hogg will also push for a speedy decision.