Brussels subsidy may help rebuild flocks Is Brussels' new sheepmeat subsidy package likely to bring higher or lower prices in the next couple of years? At first sight the supposedly simplified regime, providing the farmer with a flat rate annual payment for each ewe in place of the former handouts which varied according to market prices, should encourage output growth by increasing financial predictability and security. British producers can expect about £13 per head for their ewe flocks each year, with a further £4 to those farming in the so-called "less favoured areas". The implied promise is of a boost to producer confidence, leading to rapid rebuilding of breeding flocks and sharply increasing availability of lambs in 2003 if not this year. However, payments will be made even if the farmers do not bother breeding from the ewes. The handouts are part of a quota system: money is paid with the intention of keeping farming units intact, but specifically not as an open-ended commitment to supporting output growth. {{MEAT }}