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Reform Plans Benifit Dairy Farmers

16 March 2007

SWITZERLAND - Swiss farmers have won a reprieve after parliament this week decided in principle to slow the pace of agriculture reform.

The House of Representatives followed the Senate in approving a total of SFr13.65 billion ($11.21 billion) in payments over the next four years towards the farming sector. This is SFr150 million more than the government's proposal.

A narrow majority in the House voted in favour of a new law on agriculture.

Among the main beneficiaries will be dairy farmers, as production and marketing subsidies for cheese making will be boosted.

The House also approved a proposal to allow cheaper imports of fertilisers, fodder and seed, as well as technical equipment including tractors.

Restrictions on the production of organic food will be eased, paving the way for conventional farmers to grow and sell certain products under the "bio" label.

The marathon discussions did not make too many happy faces in parliament. Three of the four main political parties threatened to try to bring down the reform package.

Economics Minister Doris Leuthard, who also holds the agriculture portfolio, finally won the day after urging parliamentarians to be reasonable

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Source: Swissinfo


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