EU farmers to get more aid to deal with Russian food ban

Brussels | Reuters — The European Commission on Tuesday announced a new set of measures, worth up to 165 million euros, to help fruit and vegetable producers hit by a Russian ban on agricultural imports.

Last month Moscow imposed a one-year embargo on meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the U.S., the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway in retaliation for Western sanctions over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

EU farm exports to Russia are worth about 11 billion euros a year, or roughly 10 per cent of the bloc’s agricultural sales. The Russian embargo has affected EU products worth five billion euros, the Commission has said.

The measures announced Tuesday will attempt to tackle oversupply and falling prices by compensating producers if they tighten the market through steps such as withdrawing produce and giving it away.

It follows a previous scheme, introduced in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s ban, which provided 125 million euros in aid for producers but was suspended after a surge in claims led to it being heavily oversubscribed.

The new measures are in addition to the money announced in August and, for the first time, they include oranges, mandarins and clementines, the Commission said.

Other products included in the new scheme, which runs until the end of the year, are apples, pears, kiwi fruit, grapes, cucumbers, peppers, while some vegetables previously covered by EU aid — cabbage, cauliflowers, broccoli, mushrooms, and soft fruit — are no longer on the list.

— Reporting for Reuters by Barbara Lewis.

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