LUXEMBOURG (B)--The majority of EU farm ministers meeting here June 19 were still opposing a European Commission formula for implementing a reduction in grain intervention prices, but the commission was refusing to change its proposal, according to sources from several EU states.
They said the deadlock is likely to result in a decision on intervention prices being delayed again until the farm ministers meet in July, after France takes over the EU presidency.
The EU's Agenda 2000 reforms mandate that prices be reduced by 7.5% for the 2000-01 marketing year and by another 7.5% for 2001-02, but a formula for achieving this was never agreed.
Intervention prices currently rise by 1 euro (96 cents U.S.) per tonne per month through the November-May grain intervention season, until peaking at the limit which the agenda 2000 reforms will reduce.
The European Commission proposed in February that the monthly incremental rises toward the maximum intervention price be reduced to 0.93 euros (89 cents U.S.) per tonne for 2000-01 and 0.85 euros (81 cents U.S.) per tonne for 2001-02.
A number of EU countries have argued there is no reason to link the two-stage decrease in intervention prices to a formula involving incremental price rises on a monthly basis.