The European Union (EU) Council of Ministers has approved a subsidy regime for EU short flax fibre and hemp producers in the old fashioned way - paying money per tonne of fibre.

Ministers agreed to extend until the end of the 2007/2008 marketing year processing aid of EUR90 (US$113.68)/tonne for short flax fibre and hemp fibre and EUR160/tonne for long flax fibre until 2007/2008, and EUR200/tonne for 2008/2009 and thereafter.

The council also agreed that some additional aid should be paid in the 2006/7 marketing year in certain regions of the Netherlands, Belgium and France: this would be EUR50 to EUR120 per hectare under cultivation with these textile crops, depending on an area's needs, and should be used as investment for efficiency gains.

By Keith Nuthall