4 July 2000
Union seeks cash for currency

By FWi staff

FARMERS leaders have pledged to step up pressure on the government to seek full compensation for arable farmers who face a drop in subsidies.

The National Farmers Union claims there is a 34 million shortfall in support from the European Union as a consequence of the strength of Sterling against the Euro.

The weak Euro during the all-important index month of June means Arable Area Payments for UK farmers will be seriously affected by the exchange rate.

Richard Watson Jones, NFU vice president, said the level of direct support to cereals farmers most graphically illustrated the impact of the weak Euro.

“It cannot be fair for cereals farmers in this country to receive even less help.”

Brussels increased cereal area payments this year by 8% to offset Common Agricultural Policy reforms to reduce intervention grain prices.

But Mr Watson Jones said UK farmers would be worse off. Subsidies are calculated in Euros and change in value according to the strength of Sterling.

Agrimonetary aid is available from Brussels to offset any fall in subsidies due to the weakness of the Euro, but Westminster must apply for it before it is paid.

Mr Watson Jones said: “The NFU will be pressing for agrimonetary aid for UK arable farmers in response to this clear cut case for compensation.”

The European Commission must receive any applications from member states for agrimonetary compensation by the end of October.

Last year, the NFU helped secure 170m in compensation for UK arable farmers. It has already secured 57m in aid payable from this October.