Trade leaders welcome direct payment promise

Europe's meat trade leaders have been assured by a top EU official that direct payments will continue after 2013 as part of the process of sustaining livestock production within the EU. The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has welcomed it as evidence that current anxiety over falling cattle and sheep numbers is being addressed in Brussels.

EU official Klaus Borchardt, deputy head of cabinet for EU Agriculture Commissioner Marian Fischer Boel, made his direct payments commitment at a recent UECBV Board meeting in Berlin. SAMW, which was represented at the meeting, believes his words give some basis for encouragement.

"Such comments have to be viewed against the harsh reality of CAP budgetary restraints, falling cattle and sheep numbers and the income pressures experienced by all parts of the meat chain," said Allan Jess, SAMW president. "However, the fact that EU officials are focusing on the need to sustain production beyond 2013, with the help of a long-term commitment to direct payments, is welcome news.

"Borchardt's comments show how vital it is to keep talking to Brussels about our production fears, pressing home the message that the EU won't have a home-based meat industry beyond 2013 unless action is taken."

Borchardt's direct payments commitment was part of a presentation on WTO developments and associated moves towards global trade liberalisation. Another key aspect of Borchardt's presentation concerned the EU's bio-

energy objectives and their

potential impact on the livestock sector. He highlighted the role of livestock waste and by-products as another part of the cost-effective provision of bio-fuel resources.

"We whole-heartedly applaud the planned use of waste and byproducts in biofuel production," added Jess. "As always, we look for these promising EU words to be converted into real action. The alternative will be a steady decline in livestock production towards 2013 and the removal of any

remaining outposts of EU production thereafter."

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