The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will today [Thursday] unveil a report illustrating that rich developed countries continue to subsidise their food producers, helping to lock developing country competitors out of their markets.

Its paper Agricultural Policies in OECD Countries: Monitoring and Evaluation 2002 will state that last year, member countries' public aid to food producers accounted for 31% of farm receipts. There was, however, a large range in subsidies, country by country, from 1% to 60%, with the EU, Norway and Japan almost certainly towards the higher end of this scale.

Foodstuffs benefiting from the most subsidies included milk, sugar and rice, where handouts accounted for more than half of farm receipts, said the OECD. Total support to agriculture in its member group amounted to US$311bn, or 1.3% of OECD countries' GDP, which also includes the US, Canada and Mexico.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent