The measures include private storage aid for the meat sector, in particular beef, sheep and goat. The scheme will allow the temporary withdrawal of products from the market for a minimum of two to three months, and a maximum period of five to six months. It is hoped that this measure will lead to a decrease of available supply on the market and rebalance the market on the long-term.
The Commission aims to have these measures adopted by the end of April following consultation and votes with Member States.
Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said: “The consequences of the coronavirus crisis are increasingly being felt in the agri-food sector and this is why we have decided to take swift action, in addition to the measures already taken since the outbreak of the crisis.
“The measures proposed are, in the present state of market developments, intended to send a signal aimed at stabilising markets and are considered to be the most appropriate for providing stability to future prices and production and thus stable food supplies and food security. Today we are announcing a new and exceptional package of measures to support the most affected agri-food sectors by addressing already observed disturbances as well as future risks. I am confident that these measures will relieve markets, and show concrete results rapidly.”
The announcement wasn’t warmly received by everyone affected by coronavirus.
Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan said the package will not be nearly enough to support agriculture, particularly beef farmers, through the current crisis.
“While the Aids to Private Storage (APS) Scheme is an acknowledgement of the problems facing the sector, the funding won’t be sufficient. It amounts to less than €8 for every farmer in Europe,” he said.
Cullinan said that a much more substantial financial package involving market supports and direct payment aid is required.
“I am concerned that the EU Commission appears to be taking agriculture and the food supply chain for granted. Farmers and all those in the chain have been working very hard to keep food on the table, but beef farmers are now in crisis and dairy markets are under severe pressure,” he said. “We believe the increased cost of storage for beef and dairy product has not been adequately taken into account in this scheme.”
He urged support at a national level. “We need our Agriculture Minister to push for a significant increase in the Commission allocation,” said Cullinan. “The Minister also needs to come forward with national funding to support beef farmers.”