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Saturday, 16 April 2016

EU might extend support to farmers hit by Russian ban

The European Commission will consider taking additional measures to support farmers hit hard by a Russian ban on Western food imports, said EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan weeks after the bloc announced a new support package for farmers hit by the Russian ban.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and introduce additional measures if necessary," said Hogan earlier this month in an interview with Xinhua.

"I am prepared to use all possible tools available within the financial constraints and the tight legislative framework we operate to support farmers," said the commissioner.

The focus of the support package introduced in March was on the dairy, pig meat, fruit and vegetable sectors.

It included measures such as placing products into storage to reduce surplus supply, allowing producers to freeze milk production, relaxing EU limits on state subsidies and doubling intervention ceilings for skimmed milk powder and butter.

A new support in particular for growers of fruit and vegetables once an existing aid package expires at the end of June might be introduced.

Since Russia banned Western food imports nearly two years ago in response to EU sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, the EU has mobilized more than 1 billion euros (about 1.13 billion U.S. dollars) to support them.

Russia's ban has led to oversupply on EU markets and caused prices to plunge. The food products covered by the Russian ban represented a value of 5.1 billion euros in 2013 exports.

The EU would like to see the lifting of sanctions at least for certain food products.

The EU agriculture chief expected that progress might be possible during a trip European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is considering to take to a St. Petersburg business forum in June. Later in June, EU leaders will meet in Brussels to decide whether to extend, ease or end biting economic sanctions on Russia.

"We have tried to open discussions but there has been no response by Kremlin," said the EU agriculture chief, referring to a letter sent by Juncker to Russian President Vladimir Putin late last year, suggesting closer trade ties between the EU and a Russian-led economic bloc.
 [Xinhua - globaltimes.cn]
16/4/16

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