EU boosts aid to farmers hit by Russia sanctions | Business News

EU boosts aid to farmers hit by Russia sanctions

7 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

EU to Release $558 Million to Help Struggling Farmers.

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Police fired water cannon and blocked roads to stop nearly 5,000 farmers, with more than 1,000 tractors, marching on European Union buildings in Brussels to demand support for a sector badly hit by a Russian ban on EU food imports.BRUSSELS—The European Union said it would release €500 million ($558 million) in emergency funds to help farmers weather a slump in dairy prices, as thousands from the sector blocked roads into central Brussels with tractors and burning bales of hay to draw attention to the crisis.The European Commission announced a €500 million package of measures on Monday to provide relief for farmers stung by slumping prices triggered partly by the loss of exports to Russia due to EU sanctions against the country. An estimated 4,000 farmers, including some from Britain, gathered in Belgium’s capital on Monday as European farming ministers hold an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in the agriculture industry.

We have 20 euro cents per litre and the Europe average is about 30 cents.” “I just remind you what Commissioner Hogan said in the press conference that he held almost two weeks ago about that issue. Russia has banned imports of meat, dairy products and fruits and vegetables from the European Union, the United States, Norway, Canada and Australia since August 2014 in response to their sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis. “The countryside has had to shoulder the burden of the Russian ban,” Albert Jan Maat, president of European farmers association Copa, told a news conference “Farmers are paying the price for international politics.” Copa and related agri-cooperatives group Cogeca said they expected over 6,000 farmers and 2,000 tractors to bring Brussels to a standstill. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said Monday that the funds would be available immediately for farmers, and would come from the EU’s own budget. The money will be spent on direct payments to farmers, covering the cost of storing skimmed milk powder, as well as on promotion of dairy and pork exports, an EU spokeswoman said. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has said dairy farmers face a “state of emergency” after a 25% fall in the wholesale price of milk in the past year.

Farmers’ representatives said 5,000 dairy farmers with 1,500 tractors had descended on the EU’s de facto capital city. “3 milk crises in 6 years. European farmers have suffered a sharp decline in demand for their products as Russia blocks western imports of food and China tries to bolster domestic production rather than buying milk from Europe. Farmers have been facing a worsening cash flow crisis. “We are now in early September, bills have not been paid for the summer and a lot of milk producers will not be able to see there way through the winter unless cash is put on the table immediately,” Mr Maat said.

The Russian import ban, together with lower demand from a slowing China, has led to a global milk glut that has pushed prices below production costs, said the European Milk Board, which represents dairy farmers in 15 European countries. EU agriculture ministers are meeting at the time in an extraordinary session to assess the crisis, which has seen milk and pigmeat prices crash to five-year lows. She has pledged to push for the creation of a new futures and insurance market in dairy products so that farmers can insure themselves against price fluctuations. Raymond wants long-term contracts between farmers and supermarkets to be introduced and for the government to force retailers to improve the labelling of their products so shoppers can see where food has been sourced.

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney called on the Commission to deliver a comprehensive package of supports to address the crisis. Mr Coveney also backed calls for the €800 million collected this year in superlevy milk fines to be used to support the sector and for Brussels to raise the intervention price for milk, which is currently at 23 cents a litre. Members of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) have joined farmers from other countries for the protest.

Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl have increased the amount they pay, and Tesco has agreed to use only British milk in its own-brand yogurts instead of importing from Germany, as it had done previously. He declined to provide more details of the plan. “If the politicians refuse to reduce the EU volume, it is the duty of us all to take to the streets and force political changes,” Mr.

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