7 August 1998

Support cut for hemp and flax

AREA aid for the growing band of hemp and flax producers has been set this week, using the "frozen" green rate of exchange prevailing on Aug 1.

Following the recent council of ministers decision to cut hemp aid by 7.5%, growers can expect to receive just over £500/ha (£203/acre) in 1998/99.

Flax producers will also be getting less, as a result of green £ revaluations in the past 12 months. Deseeded crops will be subsidised at £535/ha (£217/acre), with retted, non-deseeded fields receiving £465/ha (£188/acre).

Rule changes mean that flax growers will also have to achieve a minimum yield of 1t/ha this season, rising to 1.5t/ha next year and 2t/ha in 2000/01. Area aid will be scaled back proportionately for any shortfall.

In an effort to reduce the illicit use of hemp, (which is part of the cannabis family), growers will also have to have compulsory contracts with processors from next season to qualify for aid.

Almost 20,000ha (50,000 acres) of the two crops are now grown in the UK, compared with practically none five years ago.