Grain tariffs offer hope for struggling growers

THE EU has outlined plans to assist arable farmers hit hard by recent falls in grain prices, confirming it will re-introduce cereal import duties.

The duties were scrapped earlier this year, but with grain prices now dangerously low, the Commission has moved to protect growers.

The announcement came this week from EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, after a bumper global harvest and the banking sector collapse saw grain prices plummet.

grain imports
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With the prospect of cheaper imports flooding the European market and further depressing prices, the EU has stepped in to regulate the market once again.

Guy Gagen, chief arable advisor at the NFU said: “Without import tariffs we could be flooded with the world’s crop.

“The import duties will provide a safety net, because when grain prices get lower, tariffs get higher. While in the UK we are not in favour of market intervention, the EU has seen this as the best way to encourage growers to plant for next year.

“I doubt we will see prices shoot up because of this, but it will encourage more people to plant. We have got to the point in the UK where a lot of people are now producing below variable costs.

“That could leave many planting marginal areas re-thinking their decisions so this safety net should help with that.”

The import duties will be applied to durum wheat, high quality common wheat, rye, sorghum and maize.

Duties had initially been suspended in January as grain prices rose sharply, leaving the duty at such low levels it was suspended until June 30, 2009.

A date for the duties to come into force has not been set, but the EU said it would allow sufficient time for those with grains already in transit to reach their destinations without being penalised.

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