EU pledges further €70 million for fruit farmers hit by Russia ban
The measures, worth up to €70 million, provide a degree of protection for EU fruit producers unable to find a market for their produce because of the import ban.
Support is available to European fruit farmers who choose for example to distribute their excess products to organisations or make use of it for other purposes such as composting or processing.
“This latest extension sends yet another clear signal that we will remain firmly and fearlessly on the side of our farmers,” said Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan.
“These support measures go hand in hand with our ongoing work to modernise and simplify the CAP for the benefit of both our farmers and our wider European society".
The Commission has responded to the Russian government’s ban on imports from the Union that came into effect on 7 August 2014.
The ban, which also affects vegetable production, has caused the price of this produce to fall as an significant export market was no longer available.
On 29 June 2016, the ban was extended until the end of 2017.
Permanent and non-permanent crops
According to the Commission, the situation in the market with non-permanent crops (vegetables and some fruits) has since improved with affected produce redirected and prices subsequently stabilising.
The extended scheme now look to help producers of permanent crops such as fruit trees – produce deemed as less able to adapt to changing situations.
“In such circumstances, threats of Union market disturbances remain real for certain permanent crops such as stone fruit, citrus fruit, apples and pears,” the Commission stated.
“Adequate measures need to be adopted and implemented as long as this situation lasts.”
The scheme will cover a maximum quantity of 165,835 tonnes of these fruits.
Further measures will also see individual producers receive higher rates of EU co-financing than under regular support measures.
Farmers receive 100% EU-funded support for withdrawals for so-called free distribution (i.e. giving the fruit away to charity for consumption) which avoids food waste.
Fruit that is withdrawn from the market but not actually consumed (for example in composting), or harvested before it is ripe (so-called green-harvesting) or not harvested at all, will receive lower levels of support.
Existing measures under the EU's common agricultural policy will continue such as direct payments, rural development funding and financial support for producer organisations, reaching a total of around €700 million a year.