30 August 1996

Pressure on EU to export more grain

PRESSURE is expected to grow on the European Commission to grant extra export licenses in the light of recent estimates which show that Europes harvest could top 190m tonnes.

Latest projections indicate that this summers harvest will be 16m tonnes heavier than 1995, due in part to heavier yields in France and Spain.

After four years of drought in Spain and Portugal, this years harvest in the Iberian Peninsula is set to double last years yields, according to estimates by the Home Grown Cereals Authority.

Steve Thornhill, HGCA marketing manager, said the particularly strong barley harvest in Spain was likely to hit UK exports.

Mr Thornhill said the bumper EU harvest could pose a dilemma for the Commission over its export policy. "The EU was exporting 30m tonnes in the early 1990s but has cut this to 20m tonnes.

"However, if it wants to avoid more grain going into intervention, it may have to look at a more aggressive export marketingpolicy."

Etienne Caen, Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA) past president, said the Commission was hesitant at offering export restitutions to grain merchants.

However, in the light of last weeks report by the US Department of Agriculture, which showed that grain output in the former eastern European block nations was likely to be at a third of last years levels (1.5m tonnes compared to 5m in 1995), GAFTA hopes the Commission will be active in the export field.

Tony McDougal