Amadeusz Juskowiak

Ec ministers struggle to agree on dairy cuts

European Community EC agriculture ministers struggled today to finalise new rules aimed at limiting sales into public cold stores of unwanted butter at high guaranteed EC prices diplomats said

The plan is the key element in a landmark accord to cut dairy output by 95 pct over two years agreed in outline last December after virtually nine days of nonstop negotiations

The accord which is due to operate from the start of the new milk marketing year on April 1 was hailed as the most significant step in an ongoing campaign to reform costly EC farm policies and cut embarrassing food surpluses

Diplomats say the December agreement itself is not threatened but that its effect could be considerably weakened if the proposals are altered too radically

West Germany and Ireland are opposed to proposed limits on a farmers now automatic right to sell surplus butter into public stores when market prices and stocks are high

Faced with a butter mountain of a record 12 mln tonnes costing over two mln dlrs per day just to store EC farm Commissioner Frans Andriessen says farmers must be encouraged to cut production to meet demand

He is keen to reach an agreement on the milk problem before the ministers move on to consider this years annual price review which proposes extending the new system for butter sales to other sectors such as cereals