COPA-COGECA: more aid for EU farm sector hit by Russian ban

Copa-Cogeca urged EU Farm Ministers today to agree at their meeting on Monday on more targeted aid, including for the EU pigmeat sector, in the 2015 budget to support EU farmers and agri-cooperatives hit by the unprecedented crisis caused by the Russian ban on EU farm exports.

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen warned “The EU Commission proposal to cut support in the EU agriculture sector as proposed in the Amending Letter to the 2015 budget must be rejected. It is totally unacceptable given that no support has yet been allocated to the EU pigmeat sector when the Russian market has been closed since January and 24% of the total value of EU pigmeat exports are normally sent to Russia. Prices have decreased drastically in the past couple of months as the ban really starts to bite, especially in Denmark, a major exporter. Urgent action is required in the EU pigmeat, dairy, fruit and vegetable sectors as well as for beef to help stabilise these markets and prevent job losses upstream and downstream mostly in EU rural areas. Additional funds from outside the CAP budget must be made available when needed, since the crisis is down to politics and was not farmers or agri-cooperatives fault yet they are the ones paying the price. Emergency measures currently estimated at €344 million need to be budgeted under specific budget lines in the 2015 budget. These measures as well as any additional funds that might be needed in 2015 must be financed through “assigned revenue”. The crisis fund should be used as a last resource, only after all other resources have been used. This is also being debated in the conciliation committee which ends November 17″.

Outlining key measures for the different sectors, Mr Pesonen stressed “In the EU pigmeat sector, high quantities of low-value products that are currently in storage like pig fat and offal must be removed in order to free up storage capacity. Emergency measures should be developed to allow these products to be used for non-food purposes, like energy production. We need support to find new market outlets for the produce and the removal of sanitary barriers and other unnecessary obstacles to trade. Promotion campaigns for pig meat must also be set up once new markets have been found. Funds should also be provided to co-finance schemes for the generic promotion of pigmeat on the internal EU market. If further measures are required, temporary aid to help store edible offal and pig fat could be provided. Storage schemes could be used as a temporary stopgap measure until the emergence of new markets in non-EU countries”.

In the dairy sector, Copa-Cogeca regrets that the EU Commission decided to suspend suddenly at the end of September the temporary private storage aid scheme for cheese. It should still be open for countries severely affected by the ban, including Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland. In view of the difficult situation, flexibility is also needed at national level to recover the milk super-levy bill from those hit by it. Finally, there is a risk that the low EU reference price for milk could drag EU milk prices down to a level well beyond production costs. The milk intervention price must consequently be updated urgently to take account of rising production costs

In the fruit and vegetables sector, Copa-Cogeca calls for aid to be provided next January for a new targeted scheme to withdraw products from the market to distribute freely to, for example charities, non-food uses, green harvesting, to prevent the market from collapsing altogether as the season will be at its peak and production volumes higher. Application of article 222 of the CAP is also necessary to enable producer organisations like agri-cooperatives to react quickly.

In addition, Copa-Cogeca urges the Commission to introduce measures rapidly to help support the EU beef market including export support. The Commission must pursue a vigorous export promotion campaign and give its support to finding new market outlets. Sanitary barriers and unnecessary obstacles to trade in this sector must also be lifted, especially in the emerging economies and developed countries.

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