Monday, August 18 16:33:39
EU fruit and vegetable growers will get financial aid of up to E125 million to help them cope with Russia's ban on most Western food imports, which has created a glut of produce in peak harvest time, the European Commission said.
Russia has declared a one-year embargo on meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway in retaliation for Western economic sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.
The EU's executive Commission said on Monday it was drawing on provisions in the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which includes an emergency reserve of some 420 million euros in total to compensate for market disruption.
Of that, it will make available 125 million euros between now and the end of November.
"With effect from today, I am triggering CAP emergency measures which will reduce the overall supply of a number of fruit and vegetable products on the European market as and when price pressures become too great in the coming months," Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said.
"All farmers of the concerned products, whether in producer organisations or not, will be eligible to take up these market support measures."
The European farmers' union Copa-Cogeca said it welcomed the Commission's swift response.
It said, however, national funding would be needed in addition to EU money. It predicted the overall cost would be much greater than the total in the emergency CAP reserve as the knock-on effects would extend beyond this growing season.
The EU funding will cover produce such as tomatoes, apples, cauliflowers, mushrooms, grapes, cucumbers, strawberries and blackcurrants, which lack storage options and have no immediate alternative markets to make up for the absence of Russia.
"Prices for these perishable products have been hit hard by the crisis, falling by up to 90 percent in some cases. Prices for other products targeted by the ban are also coming under intense pressure," Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said in a statement.
The Commission's plan is to support prices by reducing some of the surplus in the market. Producers will receive funding to compensate for fruit and vegetables either withdrawn from the market and distributed for free or not harvested. (Reuters)
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