EU extends help for farmers hit by Russia’s food ban

“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,” EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said.

The move follows an announcement by Russia last month that it would continue to ban numerous categories of food from Western countries for another six months, given the fact that the EU prolonged economic sanctions it imposed against Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.

Moscow’s food ban, first implemented in August 2014, has targeted fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and dairy.

The EU has been providing support to the European fruit and vegetable sector, as well as the dairy sector, which has also been negatively affected by a slowdown in Chinese imports.

The dairy aid, which the European Commission has proposed to prolong until the end of February, consists of public purchases of butter and skimmed milk, as well as funds to help cover the costs of putting products into storage for later sales.

The support for the fruit and vegetable sectors, meanwhile, would be extended until the end of June. Here, the aid is used to purchase fruit and vegetables that are then redistributed to charitable organizations. Farmers also get compensated for not harvesting their produce, or for doing so before it is ripe.

The prolonged support measures mostly are for farmers in EU countries that exported “significant quantities” to Russia in the past, but all member states will be able to access some aid to help “stabilize the market,” the commission said in a statement.

Some legal decisions still have to be taken to finalize the extension of the EU support measures, but they are expected to be a formality.

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