EU governments may be forced to cut aid for large farms and use the money for additional rural development programmes, the agriculture Commissioner, Dr. Franz Fischler, said today (Tuesday).

While efficient production was profitable and created jobs, "in setting aid amounts we can take account of the differences in cost structures between large and small farms," he told an informal meeting of agriculture ministers in Sweden.

Governments were entitled to divert aid given to large farms by up to 20% but only Britain and France did so "and we should ask ourselves whether it would not be better to make this "modulation" compulsory for all," he said.

By Alan Osborn, correspondent