Ben Gill, president of the UK National Farmers Union (NFU), has written to European Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler to urge the European Commission to abandon its proposal to force down cereal prices in the EU.

Gill has released a statement criticising the plans to abolish a €10 (US$9.14) import tariff on grain from Eastern Europe and the Baltic. He argues that because of the strength of the pound compared to the euro, the policy would unfairly penalise British farmers because their prices are much lower than those on the Continent.

Furthermore, many traders are already acting to exploit the proposals when they come into effect, and the market prices of cereals have been reduced significantly.

"UK growers are incensed by this further blow to their already beleaguered businesses," stressed Gill: "Import tariffs are an integral part of the EU market management framework and should not be cut and trimmed mid-season in such an abrupt way."

The Commission's Cereals Management Committee is due to meet today [Thursday] to discuss the proposals