EU extends aid to food producers hit by Russian export ban

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

EU extends aid to food producers hit by Russian export ban

Related tags European union European commission

The European Commission has announced extended support measures for dairy and fruit and vegetable sectors hit by Russia’s ban on food imports from Europe.

The ‘safety net measures’ will be extended into 2016 – with support for dairy sectors expected to last until the end of February 2016 and support for fruit and vegetable producers set to continue until the end of June 2016.

The news comes after Russia extended its ban on Western food imports for a further six months - starting in early August when the current year-long ban is due to end. The current ban covers imports of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, milk and dairy, however Russia has hinted that more categories could be added in the future.

According to the European Commission, it is currently finalising the last details with a view to formally adopting the relevant legal decisions in the coming weeks ‘as a matter of formality.’

For the fruit and vegetables sector, the foreseen measures may enter into force as of this week, while for the dairy sector they will be in place as of 1 October, the Commission said.

“With the ban prolonged, we need to continue to provide a safety net in order to give security to producers who continue to face difficulties in relation to the ban," said Commissioner Phil Hogan, responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development.

According to the Commission, aid for farmers and producers will be allocated to EU countries that have exported significant quantities to Russia over the past three years.

The €5 billion ban

Russia is the second most important destination for European agri-food exports after the United States, representing in total a value of about € 11.8 billion in 2013, or roughly 10% of all EU agri-food exports, according to the Commission.

A FoodNavigator data blog at the time the ban was put in place​ estimated that the export embargo could cost EU food producers more than €5 billion. The European Commission later released an information note​ confirming that the Russian ban represented 43% of exports, and could cost €5.1 billion.

Support package

EU support for fruit and vegetable growers has cost €155m so far, and has taken the form of withdrawing produce from the market to avoid price crashes. Produce has generally then been distributed free in schools and hospitals, or used for compost or animal feed.

Meanwhile in the dairy sector, the Commission has said it will continue current support packages, which involve buying up butter and skimmed milk powder and paying farmers to store their produce.

The EU added that quantities will be allocated to the Member States that have exported significant quantities to Russia over the past three years.

“Besides this, an additional quantity not exceeding 3,000 tonnes may be withdrawn from the market in all Member States in order to further stabilise the market,”​ it said in a statement.

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