The European Commission will in November propose a significant switch of cash away from direct payments for food producers into rural development programmes.

The move, which could cover non-food industries, comes under reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, said Michael Mann, Brussels spokesman for agriculture.

Mann told that starting in 2009 the percentage of payments that farmers had to devote to rural development would increase by 2% each year, to reach 13% by 2013 compared to the present share of 5%.

The policy change is separate from the Commission’s overall planned reforms of EU budgets. Mann said total aid going to the CAP – about EUR55bn (US$77.6bn) this year – would be unchanged. The policy switch is to be announced on 20 November.

The move could give Brussels flexibility at the food liberalisation negotiations of the World Trade Organisation Doha Development Round.