Fuel farming

FARMERS are exploiting a loophole in the European Community's new common agricultural policy, which grants them crop subsidies to leave their land fallow so as to reduce oilseed production.

But many of these fields in UK will shortly turn a greedy yellow as they would have been planted with rape seed, also known as canola. Farmers say they are abiding by subsidy rules because the crop in their fields is not meant for human consumption, but for fuel production (The Economist, Vol 385, No 7787).

Farmers say they can sell the crop quite profitably, despite collecting the subsidy, to one of several German, Austrian and Italian companies. These companies will then refine it into fuel to be added to diesel or heating oil.

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