Concerns that the German dioxin crisis could force European pigmeat producers into losses have pushed the EU into offering emergency storage subsidies.

Handouts will vary by products being stored and the European Commission is offering storage options of 90, 120 or 150 days.

A Brussels report said pigmeat prices fell 2.4% across the EU (7.2% in Germany) immediately after the dioxin crisis in Saxony, and the Commission fears “a further price decline”.

German pig farmer group Interessengemeinschaft Schweinehalter Deutschlands warned that some meat processers are now “reluctant to buy pigs from Lower Saxony (one third of Germany production)”, warned Brussels.

It added that with increases in feed costs, “the economic situation for fatteners and piglet producers remains highly critical” – vulnerable to small price falls.

The Commission has not capped the pigmeat that can enter subsidised storage. The last time it offered this service – 2007 – costs were EUR37m (US$50.7m).

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EU agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos has called a consultative committee meeting to “look at the sector in the medium term.”