BREAKING NEWS

The EU’s agriculture ministers are set to approve special community aid for poultry and egg producers, because of consumer fears over bird flu.

Sales in some parts of the bloc have more than halved.

The proposals by the European Commission to help farmers are said to have the full support of the EU member states.

If the European Parliament agrees, the funds could begin to flow by the end of the month.

The commission would pick up half the costs, national governments the rest.

Following a string of bird flu outbreaks in the EU, Italy reported a 70 percent drop in poultry sales and France saw sales fall 15 percent amid fears the disease could enter Europe’s food chain.

The confederation of Italian farmers says prices have slumped by 40 percent, leaving the sector with losses of D;800-million.

Support to farmers is usually restricted by EU rules, in order to preserve competition.