Details on potential support for growers due to Russian import ban

by Jack Ward

Russian Import ban

More detail is now emerging about the operation of the EU support measures.

The Delegated Commission Regulation has been circulated and will come into force Monday 1 September. This provides a maximum of €125m for certain types of fruit and vegetables: tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, sweet peppers, cauliflower & headed broccoli, cucumbers & gherkins, mushrooms, apples, pears, plums, soft fruit, table grapes, and kiwi fruit.

The budget is split €82m for apples and pears, €43m for everything else. This list was drawn up from the Commission’s own analysis of crops suffering market disturbance. The Commission has the power to add to it if the case is made.

The special support is to cover:
1. Withdrawals
2. For free distribution (to charities and schools)
3. Other (e.g. landfill)
4. Green harvesting
5. Non harvesting

Defra understand that free distribution can also undermine the market, but food for the needy is accepted EU policy that cannot be changed.
The Commission has set maximum levels of support for each type (in € per kg – see table below). Defra is still considering the rates that will apply in UK. Industry representatives argued that UK rates should not be set any lower than the maximum.
Support is not dependent on the product being destined for Russia.

The budget is finite. Everything has to be covered by prior notification, by grower to Member State, then by MS to Commission weekly. Commission will tell MS when it cannot accept any more notifications. The actual rates payable may be scaled back to accommodate notifications in the pipeline when the money runs out. No money will be paid out until the scheme closes on 30 November.

UK will not allow retrospective claims because of the need for prior notification and because we do not have procedures in place for withdrawals. In contrast, other member states that have withdrawals in their national strategy will be able to include withdrawals from 18 August, the date of the Commission announcement. In this respect UK is at a disadvantage to many Member States as we were in the E coli crisis of 2011. BGA has discussed this with Defra/RPA on several occasions over the last three years and this needs following up again.

The support rates by product
Product                  EUR/100 kg

Carrots                     12.81
Cabbages                  5.81
Sweet peppers       44.40
Headed broccoli     15.69
Cucumbers            24.00
Mushrooms            43.99
Plums                      34.00
Soft fruit                  12.76
Tomatoes                 7.25
Cauliflowers           10.52
Apples                     13.22
Pears                       12.59

Producer Organisations
Support is available to POs and growers who are not in POs, but the preference is to channel it through POs wherever possible because the RPA has to inspect all claims made by individual growers but only 10% of claims made by POs. Non-members should approach a PO recognised for the product and they must sign a contract to cover the arrangement. POs are required to accept all reasonable requests from non-members, but RPA will accept notifications from non-PO growers in duly justified circumstances.

It is clearly the view of all concerned (industry, Defra, Dept of Health) that a better solution is to stimulate consumption to deal with any surplus. But this scheme does not provide support for promotion.

Next steps
Growers can phone RPA Fruit & Veg Section in Newcastle for advice on how to make a claim. Defra will be consulting again on the rates for the UK.

A Notice to Traders relating to the fruit and vegetable exceptional support scheme has been published and can be seen using the link below:

Guidance for the Fruit and Vegetable Exceptional Support Scheme