EC to Allow Agricultural Funds for Tobacco Growers
Although the EU will not have any express subsidies for tobacco growers, it will allow them to be financed under general agricultural subsidies, according to EC official Roger White.
"From the point of view of the Commission, we cannot return to directly funding tobacco, but Bulgarian growers will continue after 2013 to be able to receive subsidies based on the areas they cultivate," White told BGNES news agency.
The spokesman of EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos recalled that the EU is carrying out a campaign against smoking, but has in the past expressly subsidized tobacco growers.
He said that the future way the EC will take with respect to them is a middle path, in which it will view them as general agricultural producers.
"During the last reform of the Common Agricultural Policy we clearly stated we are putting an end to payments for tobacco and starting 2013, there will be no more such payments," added White.
BGNES however recalls that the vast part, or some 90%, of Bulgaria's tobacco growers cultivate small areas well below the minimum of 1 hectare needed to receive EU subsidies.
This has led the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture to ask the EC for permission to Bulgaria to issue state payments for its tobacco growers.
The Ministry has said it expects to receive this permission, just as it had in previous years, and to be able to subsidize tobacco farmers in 2013.
BGNES further quotes Brussels sources saying that tobacco growers also have the opportunity to use EU funds relating to environmentally friendly agriculture under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, if they can show that their activities benefit the environment.
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