EU may give 1 billion euros to Third World farmers

In theory, the EU farm cash would be sent over the next year or two via international organisations like the United Nations and World Food Programme to help small producers in developing countries buy seeds and fertilisers.

EU may give 1 billion euros to Third World farmers
EU taxpayers could help finance struggling farmers in developing countries by up to 1 billion euros ($1.55 billion) by doling out unused agricultural subsidies, a senior EU official said on Friday.

In theory, the EU farm cash would be sent over the next year or two via international organisations like the United Nations and World Food Programme to help small producers in developing countries buy seeds and fertilisers.

"There will be savings this year although it's too early to know exactly how much there will be," a senior European Commission official told reporters, adding that the range was likely to be between 500 million and 1 billion euros.

"I don't think they (savings) will attain one billion euros. If it is one billion, I doubt (the scheme) can be just for one year; if it's 500 million, it could be a one-year scheme. The political choice will be between one and two years," he said.

The Commission, the EU's executive arm that administers farm and development policy on behalf of the EU's 27 member countries, would present a formal proposal before the summer.

The plan was suggested during a news conference around a month ago by EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel and was presented, in outline only, at a two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

So far, for the 2008 farm budget, the EU has been heavily underspending on classic market support measures such as export subsidies, public intervention buying of staple commodities and subsidised private storage, officials say.

Agriculture eats up more than 40 percent of the EU's annual budget, which for 2008 is planned at 120.7 billion euros. So far, the plan has not gone down well with many of the EU's farm ministers, who say it cannot be a sustainable solution.

"It's clear that the agriculture ministers don't very much like the idea of using money earmarked for agriculture elsewhere," the official said.

But the Commission proposal "will probably not be for the (EU) agriculture ministers, rather for development ministers. And (European) farmers would not be threatened by this -- the measure should be temporary," he said.

Last Mod: 20 Haziran 2008, 14:53
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