Cutting the link between EU aid to farmers and the level of production would lead to a 3% decline in beef production but a 7% rise in prices so that producers’ revenues would rise by 4%, according to four independent studies prepared for the European Commission.

This “de-coupling,” which is at the heart of Brussels’ proposed reforms for the Common Agricultural Policy, has come under attack by France and others for threatening farmers’ income but the Commission insisted that the net effect would be “positive” in the beef sector and have only minimal effects in arable crops.