April 1, 2020
EU's agrifood sector assured of continued support amid virus outbreak
The European Union has adopted measures to support the agrifood sector, but it said it is ready to take "further action when necessary" amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
In a recent videoconference meeting of the 27-member bloc's agriculture ministers, they were presented an overview of the situation in the agrifood sector by EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski.
Noting the EU is facing "an unprecedented crisis", Wojciechowski said the meeting "allowed us to have an overview of this fast changing situation".
"I listened carefully and took good note of all the suggestions and requests that the (European) Commission will now analyse and reply to", he said.
He said that despite farmers' and producers' difficulties and increasing pressure the EU's agri-food sector is showing resilience and continues to provide Europeans with high-quality and safe food.
Among the measures that the EC has adopted since the beginning of the virus crisis is the increased state aid granted to farms, which adds up to €120,000 (US$ 131,423) or, in some cases, €125,000 each under the newly adopted Temporary Framework for state aid.
Farmers can get a maximum aid of €100,000 per farm, while food-processing and marketing companies can benefit from a maximum of €800,000 ($876,221). This amount can be topped up by de minimis aid, a type of national support specific to the agricultural sector that can be granted without prior approval from the EC. Recently the ceiling of this aid was increased to €20,000 (and up to €25,000 in specific cases).
Another measure is the creation of so-called Green Lanes to ensure a functioning single market for goods among the member states. These green lanes, based on designated key border crossing-points, will have border crossing checks that will not exceed 15 minutes. Passage is granted for all goods including agri-food products.
Moreover, the EC has extended the deadline for CAP (common agricultural policy) payment applications from May 15 to June 15, to allow farmers more flexibility to fill in their applications. "in these difficult and unparalleled times". The extension has already been communicated for Italy and the EC is working on the legal steps to implement it for all member states.