Brussels extends aid to farmers hard hit by Russian ban

Russia's ban on EU food imports has been renewed for another year

Russia's ban on EU food imports has been renewed for another year [Prayitno/Flickr]

The European Commission extended its financial support to Europe’s agriculture sector today (7 August), renewing benefits to farmers hit by Russia’s ban on food from the EU. The new aid package will last until June 2016 and targets European fruit and vegetable producers.

The Russian government announced that it would continue its embargo on food products from the EU for another year. Russia first set up the embargo in August 2014.

Russia’s embargo on European food imports is widely perceived as a retaliation against sanctions the EU imposed against Russia during the Ukraine conflict.

European Commission officials announced in June that they would renew support to the European fruit, vegetable and dairy sector. Financial aid to dairy producers is in place until February 2016.

>>Read: EU extends aid to farmers hit by Russian food ban

EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said the renewed aid deal was a sign of “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, 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,” Hogan said.

Europe’s fruit and vegetable sector has been strongly hit by the Russian embargo, since 12% of exports previously went there, according to European Commission statistics. Ten percent of European dairy exports previously went to Russia.

The Commission’s funds have been used for market stabilisation and free distribution of fruits and vegetables to charities.

Funding from the renewed aid package will be based on previous exports to Russia from the last three years and will allocate an additional 3,000 tons to each member state.

>>Read: Russia starts pouring Western food in wasteland defying public outrage

Russia banned the import of certain foods and drinks originating from the European Union as a response to Western sanctions over Ukraine’s crisis.

The Russian food ban, which took effect in August 2014, forced the European Commission to use agricultural funds to help EU producers hit by the trade restrictions.

Russia is the second most important destination for EU agri-food exports after the United States, representing in total a value of about € 11.8 billion in 2013, or roughly 10% of all EU agri-food exports, according to the Commission. The agri-food products covered by the Russian ban represent a value of € 5.1 billion in 2013 exports, it said in an information note, or 43% of EU agri-food exports to Russia.

Some sectors are affected differently however. Apart from emergency market support measures for the dairy sector, at the beginning of August, the Commission announced roughly €32 million aid for peaches and nectarines, and €125 million for perishable fruits and vegetables.

>> Read: Dairy sector to receive emergency EU funding following Russian trade ban

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