News last update:6 Aug 2012

EU ends maize price guarantee

The European Union has agreed to stop buying maize its farmers could not sell above a set price; the reason being that all grain silos are full with unsold stocks.

Until now, the EU has bought up all the maize its farmers could not sell on the market for more than €101.31 ($135) per tonne in order to provide a safety net when prices slumped.

Only Hungary profits
However, with maize prices soaring worldwide amid a general commodities boom, it is mainly uncompetitive Hungarian farmers who still need the EU price guarantees. Their production techniques are outdated and they are quite far away from big consumer markets.

Hungarian production has driven up the amount of maize held in EU grain silos, which are nearly brimming over with 5.6 million tonnes in stocks and little chance of selling it profitably on the market.

Too expensive
"The situation of growing stocks was rapidly becoming untenable - as well as expensive for the EU budget," European Farm Commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel said. "Farmers should be growing for the market."

Putting an end to the price guarantee is expected to save the EU budget about €620 million ($827 million) in purchase and storage costs from 2008 to 2014, according to an estimate from the European Commission.

In addition to maize, the EU also offers its farmers a €101.31 per tonne price guarantee for wheat, barley and sorghum.

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