By FWi staff

EU COMMISSION plans for a self-financing scheme to stabilise pig producer incomes appeared to founder this week.

A round-table discussion at the farm council meeting in Luxembourg revealed widespread opposition to the commission proposal.

Under the scheme, pig producers would be able to pay into a fund in times of plenty and draw from it in times of adversity.

Participation would be voluntary, it would have to run for at least five years and national governments would have the opportunity to provide start-up finance.

But a majority of member states, including major pig-producing countries like the UK, Denmark and Holland, said such a regime was unnecessary.

They believed it was still best to leave it to the market to sort out the peaks and troughs of the pig cycle, and feared that it would soon lead to distortion of competition.

Another group of countries, including France, Spain and Belgium, said some sort of scheme was necessary to improve stability in the market.

But they believed it could only work if it was compulsory and was backed with EU money.

EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler noted the comments and dismissed claims that it would lead to distortions.

Member-state finance would be limited to start-up costs, he said, and would be subject to the normal rules surrounding state aids.

But, even though it was agreed to study the idea further at a later date, officials suggested the proposal had little future, especially now that the pig market has started to pick up again.

  • Brussels has cut export refunds on sales to Third countries, following the general improvement in EU pig prices.

    For fresh and frozen carcasses, these have been reduced to zero, with legs, loins and fore-ends unchanged at 15/100kg (93p/kg).

    They have also been cut or eliminated for trade with all central and eastern European countries, as part of the preparatory work for them joining the EU.

    The decreasing dependence on export refunds will also make it easier for the EU to meet its tighter GATT limit of 444,000t of subsidised exports from July 1.

    This season it has shipped some 1.5m tonnes to Third countries, 674,000t of which has carried a subsidy.