EU should pay left-over farm aid to developing countries
The funding will help famers in developing countries buy seeds and fertilizer, be self-sufficient and eventually start trading.21 May 2008
BRUSSELS - The European Union should consider paying money left over from its massive farming-support budget to small farmers in developing countries rather than returning it to member states, the bloc's top agriculture official said Tuesday.
"We will probably, within the agricultural section, not spend our total budget for 2008 ... so we will have funding available," EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said.
"Some micro-loans to small producers in developing countries to help them to buy seeds and fertilizer could be not only a short-term, but also a long-term solution that could improve their capability to feed themselves and to start trading," she said.
Such a measure would be a "very efficient way to help improve capacity in the agricultural sector in the developing countries," she said. It could become possible because soaring food prices mean that EU farmers need less support from EU coffers than usual.
However, she acknowledged that any such proposal would have to be approved by EU member states, since normally any money left over from the bloc's massive farming budget – EUR 43 billion in 2009 - is paid back to member states.
Fischer Boel made her comments on the day the EU's executive, the European Commission, published a report analysing the causes of the world food price crisis and the ways in which it could respond.
Proposed actions included liberalising EU farming policies, promoting the responsible use of biofuels and boosting research.
[dpa / Expatica]