Resistance to farmers paying inspection costs
Farm organisations have reacted with dismay to a vote by MEPs to make farmers pay for the cost of inspections.
The European Parliament's Environment Committee voted that fees should be imposed on farmers to cover the cost of animal welfare, plant health, food and feed law inspections by various national and local authorities.
The European farm lobby group, Copa-Cogeca, warned that such a proposal would be unacceptable.
"European farmers are already up against increasing input costs, high production standards, costly regulations and obligations," said Copa-Cogeca secretary general, Pekka Pesonen.
He also expressed doubts about the ability of such a measure that would require millions of invoices to be sent out to farmers to generate any real return.
"We fear that this would cost more in terms of administration than providing any real return for the authorities," he said.
"Furthermore, the additional cost of the fee cannot be passed down the food chain so farmers, whose incomes are already half the average level, have to bear the full brunt of any new fee that is introduced into the system," said Mr Pesonen.