Beefing up

IN WHAT is being described as the first comprehensive European Union (eu) attempt to prop a market hard hit by the beef crisis, farm ministers of these countries have arrived at a compromise deal. The agreement raises the level of beef the eu can procure and store away to hike the prices later and also to cut payments for the breeding of bulls and provide for subsidies for less intensive cattle breeding.

The beef crisis has seen a downswing of eu beef consumption by an average of 13 per cent since March this year, when uk first announced the possible link between the mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt Jakob disease. According to Dermot Murphy, an Irish spokesperson, "It (the deal) represents a further important income transfer to hard-pressed beef farmers.'

The meeting endorsed that most of the proposed increase in aid for the farmers should be culled from nearly us $2.15 billion in unspent funds from the 1996 budget.

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