Dairy farmers to receive 'most significant part' of €500m EC support package


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Dairy farmers to receive 'most significant part' of €500m EC support package

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Dairy producers will receive the "most significant part" of a €500m ($558m) European Commission (EC) agricultural support package announced today. 

At an emergency Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting today in the Belgian capital, the EC presented a €500m "comprehensive package of measures to support European farmers."​ 

This, the EC said, includes "targeted aid for all Member States."

"The Commission will propose that the most significant part of the comprehensive package will be provided to all Member States in envelopes to support the dairy sector,"​ it announced in a statement. 

"In determining that it is fairly distributed, targeted and effective, having particular regard to those Member States and those farmers which have been most affected by the market developments."

The allocation of financial aid to Member States will be finalised "shortly," ​it said.

"Today's announcement should been seen in the context of considerable support already provided to the agricultural sector in response to the impact of the Russian ban and the level of support that the EU provides annually to farmers and rural communities, amounting to more than €50m," ​it added.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev introduced a one-year ban on the import of beef, pork, poultry, fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy products from the EU, United States, Australia, Canada and Norway on August 7 2014. 

Within months, the EC provided a €40m support package for dairy farmers in Finland (€10.7m), Lithuania (€14.1m), Latvia (€7.7m) and Estonia (€6.9m).

In June, Russia extended its ban on Western food imports until August 5 2016.

During talks with European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, last month, Lithuanian Prime Minister, Algirdas Butkevičius, said he was seeking an additional €50m in targeted aid for Lithuanian dairy farmers.

Farmer protest

To coincide with today's emergency Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting, thousands of farmers from across the European Union (EU) descended on Brussels.

Around 5,000 farmers from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and other EU Member States are thought to have amassed for the protest, which was organized by European farmers association COPA-COGECA.

The demonstration saw streets in the Belgian capital blocked by hundreds of tractors and farmers clash with riot police. 

Thousands of farmers from across Europe descended on Brussels earlier today (Image: Twitter/NFU)

Ahead of today's talks, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) called for the development of a dairy futures market to "help the industry through period of unpredictable price shifts and give farmers more certainty over future prices."

"Dairy farmers are a vital part of our £100bn food and farming industry,"​ said UK Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, who represented Britain at today's meeting.

"I want to support the industry to become more resilient and ready tot take advantage of the growing demand for British dairy both at home and overseas,"​ she said.

The European Milk Board (EMB), which lobbies on behalf of European milk producers, said protests would "be stepped up in every country and across the EU" ​if Ministers failed to "take any effective measures."

"For the dairy farmers it is all about the survival of their farmers; for consumers it is all about regional, healthy food production throughout the EU; and for the EU it is about a stable, competitive dairy sector. If the politicians refuse to reduce the EU volume, it is the duty of us all to take to the streets and force political changes. There is simply too much at stake," ​said EMB president, Romuald Schaber, in a statement.

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1 comment

Dairy farmer

Posted by Sam Wadsworth,

Why can agreements not be made with Russia? They are one of the biggest markets in the world we need Russia buying food and trading with them!! Losing them and China not buying as much farming is almost finished as far as I see!

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