Farm aid ready and waiting Fischler

1 February 2000

Farm aid ready and waiting — Fischler

By FWi staff

MONEY to compensate British farmers for the drop in farm subsidies
caused by the strong Pound is ready and waiting in Brussels, it has
been confirmed.

European farm commissioner Franz Fischler told the National
Farmers Union annual conference in London that the money was
available if Britain asked for it.

Sterlings strength, which has seen the Pound climb to almost
DM3.25, has wiped millions of pounds off the value of subsidies to
British farmers.

British producers are trying to persuade the government to apply
for up to 450 million in compensation to offset the devaluation of subsidies
calculated in Euros.

But Westminster is reluctant to do so because much of the money
paid by Brussels would have to be matched in payments by the Treasury.

Dr Fischler told conference delegates that the UK government had
“to a certain extent” made use of the facilities for compensation.

But further payment was only possible on a voluntary basis and
agriculture minister Nick Brown had to apply to Brussels before the money
could be released.

“It is clearly the right of member states to make use of the
arrangements,” he said.

“If the UK applies for it then we are obliged
to pay our part of the money.

Prime minister Tony Blair acknowledged that farmers faced a
“serious and big crisis”, but failed to mention compensation for
farmers in an earlier speech.

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