EU Throws Lifeline to Farmers Hit by Russia's Import Ban
A French farmer drives an old U.S. combine, dating back to the 1950's, as he harvests barley in a field in Sancourt, near Cambrai northern France.
BRUSSELS — EU farmers will get financial help of up to 125 million euros ($167 million) to help them cope with the impact of Russia's ban on most Western food imports, which has created a glut of fruit and vegetables in peak harvest time, the European Commission said Monday.
Russia has declared a one-year embargo on meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway in retaliation for Western economic sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.
The Commission said it was drawing on provisions in the reformed Common Agricultural Policy, or CAP, which includes an emergency reserve of some 420 million euros ($560 million) in total to compensate for market disruption.
The money will be available between now and the end of November.
"With effect from today, I am triggering CAP emergency measures which will reduce the overall supply of a number of fruit and vegetable products on the European market as and when price pressures become too great in the coming months," Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said.
"All farmers of the concerned products, whether in producer organizations or not, will be eligible to take up these market support measures."
The aim is to reduce some of the surplus in the market by giving producers funding to compensate for fruit and vegetables either withdrawn from the market and distributed free or not harvested in the first place.
Products covered by the measures will include tomatoes, cauliflowers, mushrooms, grapes, cucumbers and other products in season, lacking storage options and having no immediate alternative markets to make up for the absence of Russia.
Already a week ago, the Commission, the EU executive, announced it would provide financial support for peach and nectarine growers.
The farmers' situation will be assessed further at a meeting of agriculture experts representing member states on Friday and at an extraordinary meeting of EU agriculture ministers on Sept. 5.