May 5, 2020


European Commission adopts package of measures to further support agri-food sector



The European Commission published Monday, May 4, the latest package of exceptional measures to further support the agricultural and food sectors most affected by the coronavirus crisis.


The exceptional measures, which were earlier announced on April 22, include private-storage aid for the dairy and meat sectors, the temporary authorisation to self-organise market measures by operators in hard-hit sectors, and flexibility in the implementation of market support programmes.


On top of these market measures, the EC proposed to allow member states to use rural development funds to compensate farmers and small agri-food businesses with amounts of up to €5,000 (US$ 5,435) and €50,000 ($54,354), respectively.


"… I am now confident that the adoption of these measures will provide tangible support, send the right signal to markets, and soon provide some stability. This package and the previous support measures show that the Commission is ready and will act as the situation demands it. We will continue monitoring the situation in close contact with stakeholders, the European Parliament and member states", Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said in a statement released by the EC.


One of the exceptional market measures that are now fully adopted and published is the private storage aid for dairy (skimmed milk powder, butter, cheese) and meat (beef, sheep and goat meat) products.


Private storage aid involves the temporary withdrawal of products from the market for a minimum of two to three months and a maximum period of five to six months. Applications to participate in the scheme will open from May 7. This measure aims to stabilise the market by temporarily reducing available supply.


Another measure is the temporary derogation from EU competition rules. Article 222 of the Common Markets Organisation Regulation allows the EC to adopt temporary derogations from certain EU competition rules in situations of severe market imbalances.


The Commission adopted such derogations for the milk sector, as well as the flower and potato sectors. These derogations allow operators to self-organise and implement market measures at their level to stabilise their sector and in respect of the functioning of the internal market for a maximum period of six months.


For example, the milk sector will be allowed to collectively plan milk production. Storage by private operators will also be allowed. Consumer price movements and any possible partitioning of the internal market will be monitored closely to avoid adverse effects.