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Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Department has to lobby her European counterparts to reverse the prohibition on the growing of non-food crops on set-aside land. [115212]

The original CAP reform proposals removed the existing derogation which allows non-food crops to be grown on set-aside. Since these proposals were published, there have been a number of detailed discussions. The European Commission have indicated that they may make some changes to their original proposal on set-aside, including allowing continued access for non-food crops. Our view is that if set-aside is to continue, it must be applied in a flexible way which maximises its potential benefits.Negotiations are continuing in Brussels, due to be concluded in June.