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EU ministers of agriculture agree on significant reform

Milk quota on the way out

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BRUSSELS - European Union agriculture ministers have agreed to a new round of aid reforms in Europe's shrinking farm sector meant to boost competition in global markets. The ministers reached their agreement following recent all-night negotiations.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel says discussion on how to provide aid to dairy farmers as milk quotas are abolished across the 27-nation bloc in 2015 proved to be the most difficult issue. According to French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier there was "virtual unanimity" backing the reforms, which are the most significant the EU has undertaken since the last major round of reforms five years ago.

The EU spends about 40 percent of its budget supporting 13 million farmers even though they represent less than 3 percent of the unionís population. However, through modernization and efficiency, a declining number of farmers has boosted production and remain the EUís primary and most stable food supplier.