Contentious tobacco industry gets a new lease of life with aid extension

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union farm ministers have extended until 2004 their aid of 1 billion euros a year to tobacco growers. The farm aid to tobacco growers offends those who say smoking causes tens of thousands of deaths a year. But tobacco-growing nations in southern Europe say the subsidies are vital. The extension of the aid was approved at a regular monthly meeting of EU agriculture ministers on Monday. The ministers broadly accepted the European Commission’s proposal to extend the aid regime. However, Commission plans to ultimately phase out funds to the sector were removed from the legal text, and were watered down into plans to develop other incomes for tobacco farmers. «In the raw tobacco-producing regions, it is consequently advisable to implement actions aimed at the development of new sources of income and economic activities for the growers,» ministers said in a statement. After much debate, ministers agreed to extend the current system by three years, except for growers of low-quality tobacco, whose subsidies were cut by 10 percent, a statement from the Commission said. The EU also has a tobacco fund, which comes from a percentage of the subsidies and finances health campaigns against smoking and projects to switch farmers to other crops. The farm ministers decided to gradually increase the percentage of subsidies for the fund and will review the situation in 2004, officials said. Northern European states such as Sweden and Britain do not believe there should be an EU tobacco regime at all, but countries such as Greece and Italy, which grow tobacco, object to ending the subsidies. – On Panamax in Far East, Kline has fixed M/V «Fen Jin Hai» 69,900 dwt, built 1995, delivery end March China, redelivery Japan, at USD 7,400 daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.