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EU trade concessions could spell disaster for Dales farmers

[Wednesday 27 September 2006]

EUROPEAN proposals to restart failed world trade talks could spell disaster for already hard pressed beef farmers across our region according to a leading industry organisation.

dales farm storiths
Dales farms under threat from world trade talks?

The so called 'Doha round' of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks failed after the major trading blocks of Europe and the United States failed to reach agreement on agricultural subsidies with the smaller 'non aligned' countries.

In an attempt to restart the failed round of talks, the European Commission has made what the National Beef Association (NBA) is calling a "bombshell proposal" that would see a reduction in compensation payments to farmers who see their herds slaughtered during a disease outbreak.

Just five years after the Yorkshire Dales suffered so heavily in the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak the NBA insists it is adamant that attempts to resurrect the failed Doha round by offering new EU concessions on state aid cannot be at the expense of livestock farmers who could again become victims of imported diseases like FMD.

The move could also have a major impact on farms hit with Bovine TB which continues to spread whilst a political impasse rages on over the merits of a badger cull to control it.

"EU negotiators are prepared to make fresh concessions so new life can be injected in the wreck of the Doha round and have decided that dramatic cuts in EU State Aid, particularly disease compensation, will be attractive to world trade talk doubters," explained NBA chief executive, Robert Forster .

...they will have to come up with a better idea because adequate disease compensation is necessary if livestock loss remains the result of compulsory slaughter after FMD...

Robert Forster - National Beef Association

"However they will have to come up with a better idea because adequate disease compensation is necessary if livestock loss remains the result of compulsory slaughter after FMD - whose entry is beyond the control of the farmer and the European Commission - has sneaked into the EU from an outside source.

"It appears that parts of the Commission are unaware of what the other is doing. The UK industry is already in the process of responding to an earlier EU suggestion to develop a partnership between itself and government, in which farmers make a greater, or lesser contribution to disease compensation according to a pre-defined assessment of how much, or how little, of that particular disease's spread is within the farmer's control," continued Mr Forster.

"This is a proposition that could be developed but the sudden, unexpected and completely unacceptable counter suggestion contained in the Commission's proposal on State Aids will snuff it out completely."

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