EU update for Fruit & Veg growers due to the Russian ban

by Tim Mudge

DEFRA have circulated the following statement:

The European Commission has today announced an emergency support measure for fruit and vegetable growers affected by the Russian ban (see press release below). The UK government is urgently seeking clarity regarding the Commission’s plans. The Commission have stated that these products will be covered: tomatoes, carrots, white cabbage, peppers, cauliflowers, cucumbers, and gherkins, mushrooms, apples, pear, red fruits, table grapes and kiwis.

•The UK government recommends consuming 5 a Day fruit and vegetables to improve health; this ban provides an opportunity for people across Europe to consume more fruit and vegetables in order to support EU growers adversely impacted by Russia’s actions. We suggest growers might work with retailers to promote increased consumption as this should be more beneficial than withdrawals.

• Finding new markets for produce is likely to be more beneficial for growers than withdrawing it. We recommend growers get in contact with UKTI, an agency of BIS, who works with Defra to help firms export. 

• In order to assess the efficacy of the scheme on the UK, we are pressing the Commission for more specific details. The Commission has thus far provided no details on how they intend to implement the scheme. 

• All withdrawals will likely need inspecting. 

• The Commission has called an extraordinary meeting for Friday 22 August for Member States to share their analysis of the impact of the ban on their farmers.

In 2011, as a result of market disturbances caused by the massive outbreak of e coli in Germany and the Russian ban on EU fruit and vegetable imports, the European Commission launched a withdrawal scheme for salad vegetables. This scheme lasted for approximately 3 weeks and growers claimed €210m in compensation. The press release: 

The European Commission announces exceptional support measures for EU producers of perishable fruit & vegetables
In the context of Russian restrictions on imports of EU agricultural products and following on from last week’s Management Committee meeting discussion of the market situation, the European Commission is moving as from today to introduce support measures for certain perishable fruits & vegetables.

Commenting on the decision, Dacian CioloČ™, EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, stated: “Taking into account the market situation following the Russian restrictions on imports of EU agricultural products, with effect from today, I am triggering CAP emergency measures which will reduce overall supply of a number of fruit and vegetable products on the European market as and when price pressures become too great in the coming months. All farmers of the concerned products - whether in producer organisations or not - will be eligible to take up these market support measures where they see fit. Acting early will provide an efficient support to the price paid to producers on the internal market, help the market adjust and be cost effective."

The products concerned by the measures announced today are the following: tomatoes, carrots, white cabbage, peppers, cauliflowers, cucumbers, and gherkins, mushrooms, apples, pear, red fruits, table grapes and kiwis. The markets for these products are in full season, with no storage option for most of them and no immediate alternative market available.

The exceptional measures announced today will include market withdrawals especially for free distribution, compensation for non-harvesting and green harvesting. The financial assistance will cover all producers whether they are organised in producers organisation or not. The measures will have a retroactive affect as from August 18. In other words, any volumes withdrawn from today onwards (or subject to green harvesting or the other measures) will already be covered by these additional measures, subject to the necessary controls. These measures will apply until the end of November with a budget foreseen of €125 million

The ongoing market situation for all products will be discussed in another meeting with Member State experts and experts from the European Parliament scheduled to take place in Brussels on Friday.

The European Commission will continue following markets development for all the sectors affected by the Russian ban on agriculture and food products in close contacts with Member States and will not hesitate to support further sectors heavily dependent on exports to Russia or to adapt the measures already announced, if necessary.

The update was signed by Kathleen Kelliher Team Leader, Horticulture and Potatoes Crops and Horticulture Policy Defra