15 November 1996

Set-aside surge?

A SHARP rise in set-aside is on the cards next year, following a turnaround in the world grain market.

Speaking at the Agra Europe world grain conference in Brussels on Wednesday (Nov 13), senior Commission official David Roberts explained that the EU had moved in a matter of weeks from taxing grain exports to subsidising them again.

With world output rising and prices falling, this now came to £18/t for wheat. Yet the draft budget for 1997 only allowed for an average £3.44/t export subsidy.

With this years EU cereal harvest estimated at a massive 200m tonnes, and set-aside at just 5% for 1997, there would be an inevitable rise in grain surpluses. Higher set-aside was therefore inevitable next autumn.

Looking further ahead, export subsidies and production-linked aids would have to fall, said Mr Roberts, as the EU expanded and the next round of trade talks got under way in 1999.

Amanda Cheesley