EU wants to scrap intervention policy

In a major overhaul of the EU) Common Agricultural Policy, the European Commission has announced proposals to scrap price-inflating intervention for pig-meat and also ffor feed grains.

In a major overhaul of the European Union's (EU) Common Agricultural Policy, the European Commission (EC) has announced proposals to scrap price-inflating intervention for pig-meat and also effectively abolish it for feed grains.

In proposals released on 20 May, the Commission said: "Market supply measures should not slow farmers' ability to respond to market signals." Also, existing production-linked subsidies for dried fodder would be scrapped and they would be rolled into the EU's single payment system, where subsidies are not governed by harvest levels.

Brussels has, however, proposed that national EU governments have more authority to help sectors in distress - such as Britain's pigmeat sector. At present, member states may retain 10% of national budgets for particular foodstuffs for aiding environmental measures, improving quality and marketing, but for these products alone.

The EC wants governments free to spend this money in any food sector, so "it could be used to help farmers producing milk, beef, goat and sheep meat in disadvantaged regions [or] mutual funds for animal diseases".

These reforms aside, the meat sector has been singled out for some special treatment, with the EC highlighting suckler cows, goat and sheep livestock as the only

sectors allowed to claim production-linked subsidies in future.

Hilary Benn, Defra minister, said: "Good progress has been made in reforming the CAP in recent years, but much more is needed to boost farm competitiveness, protect the environment, and address concerns about food prices. The Health Check should shift the emphasis of the CAP even more towards protecting the environment."

Farming leaders said the reforms did not go far enough in levelling the playing field across Europe.

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