The Soviet Union seems poised to pull off one of the great agricultural buys of the century - 75,000 tonnes of butter from European Economic Community (EEC) warehouses at a fraction of its market price.
Belgium: SV PAN AND CU INTERIOR Stockpiled EEC butter in warehouse in Brussels (2 shots)
Italy: GV Trevi Fountain in Rome
SV AND CU Grocers shop sign and window (2 shots)
CU PAN INTERIOR housewife selecting butter from shelves
France: GV AND CU Grocery stall in market in Paris with butter on display (3 shots)
CU Housewife making purchase
U.K: CU INTERIOR Sir Henry Plumb listening to question from John Darby and answering question
DARBY: "On a personal basis you would prefer to see stocks of this sort going to, as you say, starving people perhaps rather than the Soviet Union."
PLUMB: "I certainly would and I think, you know, when we, we're living in a world where people are suffering from malnutrition, then its nonsense to be sending it to country's where in fact they can help themselves, where they have a strong economy and so on. And I'll do all I can to make sure it's directed in that way, which I think is far more acceptable in terms of food aid, to help them to trade back with us the goods that they themselves are producing."
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Background: The Soviet Union seems poised to pull off one of the great agricultural buys of the century - 75,000 tonnes of butter from European Economic Community (EEC) warehouses at a fraction of its market price. The scenario seems ludicrous, but it is possible because of the inequities in the EEC's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
SYNOPSIS: This is only a tiny fraction of the vast surpluses of butter stored in EEC warehouses across Europe. Heavily subsidised, and overproduced, this butter is unsaleable in Europe, hence the decision to unload some of the unwanted stocks onto the Soviet market. Some EEC members, notably Britain, want the sale stopped - and Europe's entire agricultural policy reviewed.
Both Italy and Britain are dissatisfied with their "deal" within the Common Market, and this week both country's Prime Ministers are meeting in Rome to work out a combined strategy for next year's EEC summit in Dublin. But it's butter that evokes the strongest emotion at the grassroots level. The price that the EEC is reported to be asking from the Soviet Union is less than one third of the price most European consumers pay for the product.
A set of circumstances which, although it may make economic sense, certainly won't win any votes for the EEC's Council of Agricultural Ministers. And one European member called it "the single most objectionable achievement of the EEC to date."
For the Soviet Union, it could mean another 'butter coup'. John Darby asked the EEC's new Agricultural Committee chairman, Sir Henry Plumb, what he would like to see done with the 'butter mountains'.