Minister wants deeper aid cuts
UK FARM minister, Jack Cunningham, has attacked the commissions Agenda 2000 reform proposals, calling for bigger price cuts and lower compensation.
Speaking at this weeks farm council meeting in Luxembourg, he suggested the cut in the support price for beef should be 35%, rather than the 30% suggested in the CAP reform paper. For the dairy sector he recommended a massive 30% cut in intervention compared with just 10% in Agenda 2000.
He wants milk quotas abolished after five years, and insisted income aids should be reduced over time and totally decoupled from production.
Other member states at the meeting preferred to keep milk quotas, while Germany rejected the need for any price cuts. Most farm ministers, including the UK, warned of the problems for the oilseeds sector of having a single arable area payment, as this would greatly favour wheat production.
There was also support from the Irish Farmers Association and Danish Farming Union for UK claims that capping support on farms above a certain size – another element of Agenda 2000 – would hamper competitiveness.
• Calf processing and early marketing schemes are set to continue until Dec 1998, following broad agreement about their effectiveness at this weeks Council meeting. But Dr Cunningham called for a cut in calf processing payments to lower the raw material cost for beef finishers. *