EU Drops Mandatory Set-Aside

The decision was made by a unanimous vote of the EU Agricultural Council to drop the required set-aside of land.

The current rate of ten percent of arable land being set-aside is being dropped to zero for the 2008-09 crop year. Incredibly tight stocks of cereal grains prompted the move.

The set-aside program was set up in the 1990s to help the EU deal with an oversupply of domestic grain, but after two poor harvests as a result of weather problems, stocks are at a three decade low and prices have set new record highs. The European Commission estimates that the change could mean an additional ten million metric tons of cereal grain production.

Although the requirement to set-aside is being dropped, farmers still have the option to voluntarily set aside part of their land.

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