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€210m emergency aid for E coli-hit growers

A €210m emergency compensation package for vegetable producers is set be approved by the European Commission today in the wake of the E coli crisis.

Producers of cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, courgettes and peppers will be eligible for 50pc of the usual seasonal price for the products.

Compensation will be paid to all producers, regardless of whether they are members of producer organisations or not.

However, the compensation package will do little to cheer vegetable growers who have lost millions of euro and been forced to dump thousands of tonnes of fresh produce.

European farmers union Copa-Cogeca has estimated that the Spanish vegetable and fruit sector is haemorrhaging about €200m a week. The industry was worth some €2bn to the Spanish economy last year.

Meanwhile, Italian and Dutch losses are estimated to be losing €100m and €50m a week respectively.

Irish cucumber producer Kevin Connolly said his cucumber sales were slashed by 30-40pc in the past week.

He added that he and other Irish growers would apply for compensation if they were forced to dump stock.


The source of the E coli outbreak, that has claimed 31 lives and infected 2,400 more, still has not been identified.

Dacian Ciolos, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said it was the Commission's main priority to end the crisis and restore consumer confidence.

He added that Europe was not sufficiently equipped to respond to this type of crisis and this would need to be taken into account in reform of the Common Agriculture Policy.

Indo Farming