Farmers are to get financial help to face the challenges posed by the future liberalisation of the agricultural sector.This content was published on September 10, 2008 - 17:05
The cabinet said on Wednesday that it would release SFr400 million ($354 million) annually to finance "accompanying measures" if Switzerland and the European Union reach a free trade agreement on agricultural products.
The measures will also be needed if the World Trade Organisation achieves a similar agreement.
In either case, farmers stand to lose billions of francs and Swiss agriculture will face profound structural change.
Existing agreements with the EU have already reduced the protection previously enjoyed by farmers.
From 2009 to 2016 the SFr400 million should come from customs receipts on imported food.
Economics Minister Doris Leuthard told a media conference that the money was not designed to increase subsidies. The aim was to help all those involved make a smooth transition to the new market situation.
A change in the law on agriculture will be needed to set aside the money. The government has started the consultation process with relevant players.
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