Blog: Dean BestBrussels ready to move again to help Russia-hit EU producers

Dean Best | 26 August 2014

Fresh produce growers in the EU have secured assistance from the European Commission in the wake of the Russian embargo and Brussels has indicated it would be prepared to step in again.

Last week, the EU announced EUR125m in emergency funding for growers hit by the ban.

However, on Friday, the European Commission said Brussels officials and EU member states met to discuss the impact on the bloc's food sector.

The Commission said it "would not hesitate" to provide further support "if necessary, notably for certain dairy products, where an adverse impact is becoming more obvious in some member states". The next meeting is this Thursday, where discussions will focus on the dairy and meat sectors.

Reacting to the assistance from Brussels for produce growers, European farmers association Copa-Cogeca welcomed the move - but called for further measures.

"Prices for perishable products like fruit, vegetables and fresh dairy produce are already being badly affected by the crisis, seeing prices drop by over 50% in some cases. Prices for other products targeted by the ban are also coming under severe pressure," Copa president Albert Jan Maat said.

"Copa-Cogeca is calling for implementation of extraordinary market measures such as withdrawing products from the market and sending them to for example charities, accelerating the date of payment for direct payments, speeding up promotion campaigns to stimulate new demand and accelerating some free trade agreements with non-EU countries to open their markets."

In recent days, Russia has announced moves to increase dairy imports from other markets.

The country's veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance service has announced a lifting on bans on dairy products from two Serbian dairies that had been blocked for an unspecified violation of Russian regulations.

The regulator also said on Friday it would allow imports from three dairies based in Turkey.

Copa-Cogeca, meanwhile, today tweeted Polish farmers are set to protest in Brussels tomorrow. Copa-Cogeca said the farmers were "calling for more support to compensate impact [of] Russian ban on farm exports worth EUR10bn".

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