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EU to provide grant aid to store excess food supplies

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Janusz Wojciechowski

Janusz Wojciechowski

EU/ Aurore Martignoni

Janusz Wojciechowski

The European Commission has proposed to introduce a private storage aid (PSA) in the dairy and meat sectors.

It comes as agricultural markets remain in turmoil following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

A package of measures announced by the EU today includes private storage aid (PSA) in the dairy and meat sectors, the authorisation of self-organisation market measures by operators in hard hit sectors and flexibility in fruits and vegetables, wine and some other market support programmes.

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said the consequences of the coronavirus crisis are increasingly being felt in the agri-food sector and this is why it has decided to take action.

"in addition to the measures already taken since the outbreak of the crisis. Under the plan the commission will grant private storage aid for dairy (skimmed milk powder, butter, cheese) and meat (beef, sheep and goat meat) products."

This scheme will allow the temporary withdrawal of products from the market for a minimum of 2 to 3 months, and a maximum period of 5 to 6 months. This measure will lead to a decrease of available supply on the market and rebalance the market on the long-term.

Dairy Industry Ireland has said it understands the package for dairy specifically will be in the region of €30 million and details will be announced tomorrow by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Farmers orgaisaitons and many in the food industry have been hihglighy critical of the EU's response to the crisis in the food industry.

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has said that the EU’s prevarication on the impact of Covid-19 on farming is utterly unacceptable at a time when European farmers continue to feed the EU population despite severe price pressures.

“The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Janus Wojciechowski has shown a complete lack of understanding and no sense of urgency in his address to the European Parliament Agriculture committee. This is not a minor crisis that can be solved by tinkering around the edges of the CAP Rural Development Fund. This is money that is already earmarked for vital schemes, allocated on the basis of a more normal context. To take money out of this pot would actually worsen the crisis faced by farmers.”

During a video-conference of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee yesterday (15 April) Commissioner Wojciechowski dismissed calls for market stabilisation tools such as Aids to Private Storage (APS) citing budget constraints. Rather, Mr Wojciechowski suggested relying on the remaining 17% of Pillar II CAP funds which have yet to be allocated.

“It is clear that the Taoiseach and other EU heads of state must immediately grasp this problem and push for an Extraordinary Agricultural Programme, which needs to be funded outside of the CAP framework. These are extraordinary times and they call for extraordinary measures.”

“The beef market has fallen to a ten-year low and farmers are losing their shirts. Market stabilisation tools cannot be left on the long finger. Moreover, farmers need income support urgently and it is not good enough to say nothing can be done. Money is being found for every other sector and there is no reason we should be any different. The real measure of the EU’s response to Covid-19 will be whether it stands by those who have ensured food security though thick and thin.”

Online Editors