The European Commission (EC) said on July 30 that “safety net” measures for the European dairy, fruit and vegetables sectors will be extended into 2016 to assist producers most affected by the Russian ban.
The EC said that it was currently finalising the last details with a view to formally adopting the relevant legal decisions in the coming weeks as a matter of formality.
“The European Commission is aware of the challenges faced by European producers and to support them,” the EC said.
For the fruit and vegetables sector, the foreseen measures may enter into force as of next week, while for the dairy sector they will be in place as of October 1.
The intention to prolong some of the existing measures was first announced by Commissioner Phil Hogan, responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development, during the most recent Council of Agriculture Ministers on July 13.
In the July 30 statement, Hogan said that the significant actions taken to date by the European Union have demonstrated the solidarity of the EU with farmers most affected by the Russian ban.
“These actions also played an important part in mitigating the effects of the ban. Now, almost a year later, with the ban prolonged, we need to continue to provide a safety net in order to give security to producers who continue to face difficulties in relation to the ban.”
For the dairy sector, the measures consist of public buying-in (intervention) and private storage aid (PSA) for both butter and skimmed milk powder (SMP). These measures are currently in place and without such an extension would come to an end on September 30 2015.
Intervention will be prolonged from October 1 2015 to February 29 2016 in order to avoid any discontinuation in its operation (for dairy products, intervention is systematically open every year from March 1 to September 30). Private storage (for which no automatic opening applies) will also be prolonged until February 29 2016.
For fruit and vegetables, the EC proposes to extend until June 30 2016 the measures that ended on June 30 2015, covering the main groups of fruit and vegetables (including peaches and nectarines) affected by the Russia ban.
These measures consist in withdrawals of produce for free distribution of fruit and vegetables to charitable organisations and withdrawals of products for other purposes (such as animal feed, composting, distillation), as well as the so called ‘non-harvesting’ and ‘ green harvesting’ measures.
Quantities will be allocated to EU countries that have exported significant quantities to Russia over the past three years.
Besides this, an additional quantity not exceeding 3000 tons may be withdrawn from the market in all EU member states in order to further stabilise the market.
Global demand for milk and dairy products has deteriorated throughout 2014 and the first half of 2015 notably due to the slowdown in imports from China.
In addition, the Russian government announced the prolongation for another year of the unjustified and illegal ban on imports of agricultural products from the European Union until August 2016, the EC said.
As a consequence, existing pressure on milk and dairy product prices is expected to remain in the months to come. As for fruit and vegetables, the extension of the Russian ban means that an important export market continues to be unavailable to European producers and this could cause significant price falls, the EC said.