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Intervention storage is the practice in the European Union of storing quantities of produce with the aim of stabilising markets, which began after the creation of the Common Agricultural Policy. Intervention storage was carried out on a large scale in the 1980s, and continues today on a much smaller scale.


The creation of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy was the trigger for the creation of Europe's intervention storage. In an attempt to stabilise markets, and set prices across the EU member states, the Common Agricultural Policy allowed the states to place huge reserves of produce into intervention storage in an attempt to iron flat the natural supply & demand curves.

During the 1980s, especially in Britain, the farming community received large monetary incentives to reduce production of certain crops. The establishment of milk quotas was one mechanism employed to enforce production limits on farmers. A particularly good run of summers during the period 1985-86 saw a large surfeit of produce coming onto the market and the first intervention stores.

One such store run by "High Post Grain Silos" leased 18 unused aircraft hangars at the former Bitteswell airfield and filled them with over 250,000 tonnes of feed wheat. The storage solution was simple, the grain was tipped into the hangars directly from the farm, having first passed a testing criteria. The stored grain was cooled by forcing air through the grain stack, a process which temporarily preserved the grain.

Modern Day

The is still some intervention storage being conducted in the EU, although it is not to the scale of the 1980s. Some people consider the storage as an essential part of securing the food supply in the event of a poor harvest.

The following products are subject to intervention storage:

  • Grain
  • Milk, stored on a short term basis, between March and August to maintain market prices.
  • Butter
  • Sugar, subject to intervention policies, stocks as at January 2006 [1] exceeded 1.5 million metric tonnes.


  1. ^ EU Sugar Stock as of January 2006


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