9 February 1996

No expansion in Blair House

PROSPECTS for increasing the amount of industrial oilseeds the EU is allowed to grow under the terms of the Blair House accord are "non-existent", this weeks NFU annual meeting was told.

The deal with the US, agreed in 1992, limits the EU to growing oilseeds for non-food uses up to the point the crop is producing by-products equivalent to 1m tonnes of soyameal. This point has been getting uncomfortably close.

NFU oilseeds chairman Rad Thomas told the London meeting that the time had come to renegotiate the terms of Blair House. Oilseeds consumption was rising in the Far East and south-east Asia; support for the crop was falling and the EU was poised for expansion.

Out of the question

But senior EU official Russell Mildon said any renegotiation was out of the question. The maximum guaranteed areas negotiated in Blair House had been enough to secure EU output above the levels of the 1980s, and the amount of industrial rape already grown in the EU had been included in this main area. He also admitted the commission would have settled for less when it came to the additional 1m tonne soyameal equivalent.

"The deal we have is a binding commitment that cannot be renegotiated," he said. &#42