TOUGHER wheat intervention standards are on the cards, says the HGCA.
The EU wants to be sure wheat in intervention is of a baking quality and can be sold when it comes out, says marketing director, Alan Almond.
Raising the minimum Zeleny value from 20 to 25, with the dough machineability threshold rising to 35, is one suggestion. Introducing a protein standard of 10.5% dry matter basis is also a possibility.
"What the commission is trying to achieve is virtually impossible. But MAFF is working hard to make sure UK growers are not penalised."
Some trade analysts suggest the real reason the commission wants to tighten intervention standards is concern over low world prices. At current levels, the 15% cut in the EU support price over the next two years may not be enough to eliminate the gap between the two.
This could mean that looming GATT restrictions on export subsidies would leave a growing surplus of wheat in intervention, which would be hugely expensive and politically unacceptable. *