EC to divide €420-million dairy, pork aid among 28 EU member states
All 28 member states of the EU will receive aid worth a total of €420 million (US $475.35 million), to be allocated in a "fair, targeted and effective way" to address problems in the dairy and pork sectors, European Commissioner Phil Hogan said as he presented to the EU Agriculture Ministers the details of the €500-million ($565.94-million) support package for European farmers.
At the same time, he added, the member states will be allowed maximum flexibility in targeting the aid.
On September 7, the EC announced the €500-million aid to European farmers burdened by falling meat and milk prices which, they said, were due mainly to the import bans on EU agricultural products imposed by Russia.
"This is a comprehensive, decisive and robust support package. It is a significant statement of support by the Commission for European agriculture. It reflects in a very concrete way the comment of (EC) President (Jean-Claude) Juncker in his State of the Union speech last week, when he described himself as a strong supporter of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy)", said Hogan, who is the commissioner for agriculture and rural development, before the Informal Council of Agriculture Ministers in Luxembourg, on September 15.
The aid package includes other measures such as new private storage aid schemes for dairy and pigmeat and the possibility of advancing direct payments.
Hogan said the private storage aid is aimed at stabilising the markets effectively. "I have decided, therefore, to increase the aid rate for skimmed milk powder by over 100 per cent and fix the storage period for a year", he said, adding this responded to the farmers' request.
The storage scheme involves withdrawing a sufficient volume of product from the market for a sufficient period to allow the market to recover.
Hogan said that to address cash-flow difficulties of farmers, all member states will be provided with cash "envelopes" totalling €420 million.
Earlier, EC Vice President Jyrki Katainen said that "in determining the distribution of this aid, we will ensure that it is fairly distributed, targeted and effective, having particular regard to those MS (member states) and those farmers who have been most affected by the market developments. The Commission's intention is to provide maximum discretion to Member States to reflect their specific situations."
To address farmers' cash-flow difficulties, member states will be allowed to advance direct payments up to 70% of advances starting on October 16.
The European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV), meanwhile, has welcomed the "positive aspects" of the EU Farm Ministers meeting last on September 7 during which the €500-million aid package to meat and dairy farmers was announced.
It said it agrees with the "importance of finalising the negotiation with Russia on sanitary restrictions for pork that is not covered by the political embargo.
"If the EU Commission handles these negotiations successfully, that will have a positive impact on the pork market", the UECBV said in a press statement.
According to UECBV, the EU exported around 350,000 tonnes of pork fat and offal to Russia before the sanitary embargo.