European Commission Proposes Emergency Bill to Support Dairy Farmers

BRUSSELS, Oct. 20 (UPI) — The European Commission has proposed an emergency bill to support dairy farmers who say the price they receive for milk has fallen below production costs.

The proposed $418 million fund, however, would provide scant help for individual farmers, the European Union’s agriculture commissioner said.

The fund would only provide dairy farmers in the 27 member EU states with about $1,500 each, agricultural commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said.

In addition, Boel warned the measure, which requires approval by EU Finance ministers, would deplete emergency funds at her disposal, the EUobserver reported Tuesday.

Boel said market conditions had shown some improvement, but acknowledged farmers receive price increases after food producers.

Dairy farmers in Europe have held a series of public protests, including blocking traffic with tractors and cattle.

In France, however, wheat farmers set fire to tires in Paris last week, provoking a concern that other farmers would requests for emergency aid.

The dairy measure is not a done deal. France has led the initiative to provide dairy farmers with relief, but Britain and the Netherlands oppose the plan.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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