• BRUSSELS has approved the merger between US life science groups Monsanto and Pharmacia & Upjohn, subject to certain conditions. While both companies have significant global agricultural interests, these do not overlap, so pose no anti-competitive threat, says the commission. Only in the pharmaceutical area is there a problem, which is being overcome by a strategic divestment.
• INTERVENTION Board officials are reinforcing their efforts to cut the amount of false claims made for agricultural subsidies by re-launching its free telephone fraudline. Calls – treated confidentially – help to ensure the £700m of CAP spending handled by the IB gets into the right hands. Producers with information can contact the IB on 0800 347 347.
• A CONSORTIUM of 23 mid-Wales farmers has won a £1.3m EU Objective 5b grant for a package of farm diversification projects. Montgomeryshire Farm Enterprises will use the cash to further develop farm tourism and encourage redevelopment. *