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Set-aside to double to 10%

26 June 1998
Set-aside to double to 10%

SET-ASIDE is to be doubled to 10% for the 1998/99 crop year, following the conclusion of four days intensive talks in Luxembourg late last night

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Set-aside to double to 10%

26 June 1998
Set-aside to double to 10%

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

SET-ASIDE is to be doubled to 10% for the 1998/99 crop year, following the conclusion of four days intensive talks in Luxembourg late last night

Despite persistent objections from the French, and more muted resistance from the UK, ministers finally accepted the commissions proposed 10% rate. The French, it would seem, were bought off by a more generous than expected package for reforming the banana regime

Pressure for the increase has come from several sources. The commission has been keen to curb production in the wake of rising stocks. Some ministers (especially those facing elections) have seen set-aside as a way of tightening the market and lifting prices to their farmers. And the USA has been interested in seeing the EU lower production rather than rely on export subsidies to dispose of surpluses

But the move has drawn sharp criticism from farmers. NFU president Ben Gill said it was “out of step” with the commissions objectives under the Agenda 2000 CAP reforms. “We are rapidly moving towards a free market place when set-aside rates will no longer apply. The NFU believes we should be moving towards this situation, rather than regressing with a higher [set-aside] rate.”

The Scottish NFU also believes that 10% is excessive. But cereal convener Douglas Morrison welcomed the council decision to suspend penalty set-aside (for planting more than the countrys base area) for another year

The early announcement of the 1998/99 figure will also help farmers with their planning

  • Livestock: The most significant decision has been to cut the deseasonalisation premium for Ireland (north and south) from a maximum £60/head to £36/head. This will be funded 100% from Brussels rather than 50%. This measure rewards farmers for slaughtering at least 35% of their stock in the autumn, rather than flooding the market in the spring

  • Intervention: Intervention prices for cereals, dairy products and beef are all rolled over unchanged to the next marketing year

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