1 October 1999

Russian aid rejection

EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler has rejected the idea of another food aid package for Russia this winter, saying that if Moscow has to top up its food supplies it can buy what it needs on the open market.

Addressing farm ministers at this weeks council in Brussels, Dr Fischler said he believed the Russian harvest was much improved on last seasons 48m tonnes, possibly reaching 60m tonnes.

This was short of the governments target of 70m tonnes, and, with no grain in store since the spring, there would not be enough to meet the countrys total needs. "But we do not expect to see a general scarcity of cereals in Russia either," he said.

He also pointed to the situation in the Russian economy, with a stable $/rouble exchange rate and an improving balance of payments.

Last winter, the EU assembled a $500m aid package, including 1m tonnes of grain, 150,000t of beef and 100,000t of pork, helping to ease EU food surpluses. &#42