The European Commission has adopted a new programme, worth up to 165 million euro, for emergency market measures for perishable fruit and vegetables in the wake of the Russian ban on imports of some EU agricultural products.
The commission said on September 29 that the new scheme provides support to withdraw surplus volumes from the market and comes in addition to the programme worth up to 125 million euro for fruit and vegetables that was announced on August 18, but suspended on September 10 because provisional applications showed that the full budget allocation had already been claimed.
“In order to be better targeted, the new scheme includes an annex outlining eligible volumes in individual member states with specific figures per product group,” the commission said.
It said that these volumes are based on export volumes for this period in the past three years with amounts deducted to take account of volumes already claimed under the first 125 million euro scheme.
The new plan also includes oranges, mandarins and clementines for the first time.
European Agricultural Commissioner Dacian Cioloş said: “I am pleased that the Commission has managed to mobilise a further 165 million euro to help ease the market pressure for fruit and vegetable growers following the Russian ban.
“This programme will be more targeted than the initial scheme, although there is still some flexibility within the four product groups. These market support measures will provide short-term relief,” Cioloş said.
As in the previous programme, this scheme foresees EU support for withdrawals for free distribution (which is 100 per cent EU-funded), or for withdrawals for non-food use (e.g. composting), where the rate of EU support is lower.
Similarly, the option of green-harvesting or non-harvesting is also available, with a support level slightly lower still.
As previously, the measures will also be available for producers who are not members of producer organisations (PO), but the level of EU funding is higher for PO members (75 per cent of the figure foreseen, compared with 50 per cent for non-members), with the possible further (25 per cent) top-up for such producers from the PO operational fund.
The new scheme, which will run until the end of 2014, includes an annex with specific volumes listed in four product categories for the 12 countries which exported most fruit and vegetables to Russia during the September-December period (September to March for certain fruit) on average from 2011-2013.
The four product groups are apples and pears (total 181 000 tons); citrus fruit: oranges, mandarins, clementines (total 96 090 tons); other vegetables: carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes (44 300 tons); other fruits: kiwi, plums and table grapes (total 76 895 tons).
A number of products covered in the previous scheme – cabbage, cauliflowers, headed broccoli, mushrooms, and soft fruit – are no longer included.
In addition to these specific volumes, all 28 EU countries will have a reserve of 3000 tons each for supplementary withdrawals for the products listed in this programme, plus cauliflowers, cabbages and mushrooms, with member states allowed to prioritise certain products.
Following the Russian ban of imports of certain agricultural products from the EU (and the US, Canada, Australia, and Norway) on August 7, the European Commission has responded with specific market support measures for peaches and nectarines (33m euro), perishable fruit and vegetables (125m euro), and private storage aid for butter, skimmed milk powder (SMP) and cheese, as well as an additional 30m euro for promotion programmes.