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EU agrees to abolish set-aside from this autumn

An early agreement "in principle" by EU member states to abolish obligatory set-aside means that farmers will be free of any planting restrictions from autumn 2008, the European Commission says. At a meeting of the EU Special Committee for Agriculture on July 1st, the Slovenian EU Presidency concluded that the "vast majority" of countries would support the European Commission's proposals, which were issued in May ( Agrow No 544, p 9). The abolition of set-aside was originally planned for 2009, as part of the Commission's review of the EU Common Agricultural Policy, which is still under discussion. However, low grain stocks and high prices have prompted early action. The set-aside scheme required farmers to leave 10% of their land fallow in return for subsidy payments, but the rate had already been cut to zero for the 2007/08 season.

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