French feed producers eye new subsidy

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Reuters / A reform meant to promote animal feed production in the European Union could cut France’s reliance on costly and mostly genetically modified soybean imports by a third, depending on who receives the aid, growers said.

When EU leaders agreed on reforms to the 50-billion-euro-(C$70-billion-) a-year Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) in June, these included the prospect that member states could use up to two per cent of output-related subsidies for farmers to boost output of vegetable proteins.

It remains unclear whether and how the bloc’s other 27 members will apply this measure but President Francois Hollande said France would use it as part of a wider plan to help livestock farmers who are struggling with rising feed costs.

Feed producers argue part of the subsidies should go mainly to them as their group funds research on improving yields.

“A realistic protein plan, which would lead to a French area of protein-rich crops of 800,000 hectares, would boost domestic output by 1.2 million tonnes of soymeal equivalent, or 30 per cent of the current deficit,” said Gerard Tubery, head of French oilseed and protein growers group FOP.

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