The European Union Tuesday approved extra aid to farmers hit by a serious slump in poultry sales caused by scares from the bird flu crisis.

EU agriculture ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, approved the measure. Under the plan, national governments will present compensation claims to the European Commission, which will decide whether to co-finance them.

The European Union will pick up half the cost to help countries that can prove damage due to falling demand.

Italy has already reported at least a 50 percent drop in poultry sales, one of the largest drops according to EU data.

The EU agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, says the most sensible approach would be to compensate farmers for measures which temporarily reduce production.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.