BRUSSELS has authorised some k418m (£256m) in state aids to beef farmers in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium and Spain to help offset the devastating income effects of BSE.
The biggest pay out by far is in France, where about k259m (£159m) is being distributed among 95,000 farmers. This comprises direct income aid of k153m (£94m), interest rate reimbursements worth about k61m (£37m) and consolidation loans with a value of k46m (£28m). *
Italy comes next, with up to E150m (£92m) in aid. About E77m (£47m) of this is in the form of direct income aid for all beef farmers. The rest is available as compensation for whole herd slaughter, restocking aid and the purchase of unwanted beef from the market.
Belgium and Germany have been authorised to spend about E30m (£18m) each in income aid.
The EU Commission says the payments are justified by the "exceptional and rare combination of events", including the drop in domestic sales, the loss of export markets and the extra cost of feed following the meat and bonemeal ban.
* Portugal began re-exporting its beef again on Wed, Aug 1 under a new date-based export scheme. Sales were banned in Nov 1998 due to the rising incidence of BSE. Under the new scheme, only de-boned meat from cattle born after Jul 1, 1999, aged between six and 30 months may be traded.