PARIS, MAY 30 -- After a day of bitter wrangling, senior U.S. and European officials failed today to find common ground on the critical issue of farm subsidies, raising serious questions about the future of global free-trade talks.

In a communique to be issued Thursday, the ministers of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development plan to air the contrasting views of the United States and European Community officials, U.S. Trade Representative Carla A. Hills told a news conference tonight.

The United States has argued that subsidies for farmers are destabilizing world trade and has demanded in the so-called Uruguay Round of world trade talks that they be eliminated. Western European countries, which have maintained a complex system of subsidies for years, want to approach the issue more gingerly.

The differences between the two on the farm issue have emerged as a major barrier to a successful completion of the trade talks, which could undermine the entire global trading system.

"The United States stood by its position," Hills said, insisting that the OECD meeting here should have given new political impetus to the talks under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

In the end, the main stumbling block proved to be export subsidies: government payments to farmers that allow them to sell their products on overseas markets at cut-rate prices. "The European community is not yet ready to deal with this issue," Hills said.

While the United States also subsidizes some farm production, U.S. officials say that most of these payments do not affect world trade because the extra crops are not thrown out on the world market. The exception is a special program aimed at combating the European subsidies.

The chief European negotiator, External Relations Commissioner Frans Andriessin, argued that the OECD is not the proper forum for negotiating details of the agricultural support system.

Andriessin also argued that the American proposal was needlessly specific, that the proper target should be to move steadily and progressively to reduce a support system that the OECD staff says cost consumers and taxpayers $245 billion in 1989.

On the other hand, Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter said that the only way to assure meeting the December deadline for completion of the world trade talks would have been progress at this meeting. "But the Europeans preferred not to negotiate," Yeutter said, adding that "the framework we articulated could be and would be accepted by everyone in the world -- outside of the European Community."

Going into today's meeting, most OECD members agreed that this ministerial session should have been used to give strong impetus to the trade talks. However, the Americans ended up with the support of only two large agricultural powers, Australia and New Zealand, and lesser support from a third, Canada. Most of the members fell somewhere between wanting to be more specific than the EC countries, but not yet ready to go along entirely with the United States.

The issue now is expected to be a key one on the agenda of the Houston economic summit in July.

European officials tonight were saying that the fight over agricultural issues might yet be worked out before the ultimate critical meeting in December. Andriessin added that agriculture issues are not the only important ones in the Uruguay Round.

Neither Hills nor Yeutter would say flatly that the Uruguay Round was dead because of today's stalemate.

"But if we are to have a successful round, we must have progress in the agricultural areas," Hills said.

"If Andriessin feels that the OECD is not the place to show political commitment {in solving agricultural surplus problems}, I respectfully disagree," Hills said.

She added that tomorrow's communique might show progress in the debate with Europe on other trade issues.