Euro-MPs call for ewe premium boost

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

MEPs are calling for a substantial increase in the new flat-rate ewe premium, due to come into effect next year.

At a meeting of the European parliaments agriculture committee on Wednesday they adopted a report calling for a Euro30/head (19) across-the-board premium.

This compares with the EU commissions proposal for a Euro21/hd (13) premium for meat-producing animals and Euro16.8/hd (10.50) for milk sheep and goats.

The MEPs vote came as a considerable surprise, since the committees own rapporteur, UK MEP Gordon Adam, was only looking for a Euro25 /hd (15.60) ewe premium.

The committee also voted for a higher LFA supplement of Euro9/hd (9.60) compared with the Euro7/hd (4.40) proposed by the commission.

The higher figures came from amendments tabled by Portuguese MEP Arlinda Cunha and Irish MEP Avril Doyle. Mr Cunha has been especially keen to get a better deal for his countrys light lamb producers.

Other MEPs spoke of the need to get more money into sheep producers pockets, noting that they had the lowest incomes in the agricultural sector.

The report, which contains many other technical amendments, will now be put to the full parliament on 25 October. They are likely to endorse it.

Final decisions rest with farm ministers, however, who are expected to clear the reforms in late November.

The parliaments report increases the pressure on them to come up with similar subsidy levels.

The outcome of this weeks meeting will come as a shock to the EU commission, which had proposed its figures on the basis they would not cost the community budget any more.


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