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EU Farm Ministers Agree Extra Measures for Agricultural Markets

21 September 2015

EU - EU Farm Ministers have agreed new extra measures in the EU aid package designed to help solve the bad situation in the EU agricultural markets. Copa and Cogeca welcomed the measures as a positive step but warned it still falls short of what is needed.

The move came as EU Farm Ministers discussed the issue at their informal meeting in Luxembourg.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, presented to EU Agriculture Ministers the details of the €500 million support package announced last week.

"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 President Juncker in his State of the Union speech last week, when he described himself as a strong supporter of the CAP," said Mr Hogan.

All 28 Member States will receive substantial aid worth €420 million in total, allocated in a fair, targeted and effective way to address problems in the dairy and pigmeat sectors, while allowing Member States maximum flexibility in targeting the aid.

Other measures include new Private Storage Aid schemes for dairy and pigmeat and the possibility of advancing direct payments. 

Speaking after the meeting, Copa President Albert Jan Maat said: “I welcome as a positive step forward some new additional elements in the package but it still falls short of our expectations. In particular, I welcome the fact that farmers cash-flow problems will be helped by advancing their direct payments in Autumn. This must be done immediately. I also welcome the fact that a high level group to look at ensuring fair competition rules for producers and agri-cooperatives will be set up. I welcome the fact that EU promotion programmes will be boosted. It is important to have a strong export strategy and export insurance in the EU beef, pork and milk markets that could cover some of the trading risks. Priority must also be given to re-opening pigmeat and dairy trade with Russia,” he said.

Cogeca President Christian Pees went on to underline the severe impact of the Russian export ban worth €5.5 billion on producers.

He stressed the importance of agri-cooperatives in helping farmers to better market their produce and to get a better return for it. But he warned of the severe impact on producers of unfair and abusive practices in the food chain, saying that the EU Commission has failed to deliver on curbing these practices.

"It is time to put a solution in place that combines legislation with good codes of conduct (voluntary agreements) backed by an enforcement that gives credibility to the system."

He also warned that the EU Commission proposal for member states to use national funds under the de minimis rule is nothing new.

He insisted that the package includes very few measures to help manage the market or deal with the increasing volatility and short term problems. He underlined the need to have strong measures to deal with the market volatility and to manage the EU market.

The new private storage aid scheme for cheese and pigmeat in the package is a positive step but he regreted that the value of the EU milk intervention prices is not up for re-assessment to take account of rising input costs.

He urged EU Ministers to look at increasing the milk intervention price to stop the downward pressure on the market. This is a priority. He pointed out that the enhanced private storage aid scheme for skimmed milk powder in the package may have some positive impact but it is not the same thing and it will not be enough to put a floor in the market to stop producer prices from collapsing.

TheCattleSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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