EU beef farmers ‘need urgent help to cope with Russian ban’

The European Commission must take urgent action to support beef farmers suffering as a result of the Russian import ban, says Copa-Cogeca, the European farming union and co-operative.

Although UK beef producers have started to see a slow recovery, the EU’s beef industry as a whole was in a critical state and needed the European Commission to pursue “vigorous export promotion”, warned Jean Pierre Fleury, chairman of Copa-Cogeca’s beef working party.

Poland, which is a large beef producer and exporter to Russia, saw prices drop nearly 10p/kg on the month from 240.8p/kg DW to 231.1p/kg in the week ending 26 October. This was 5.7% lower than the same week last year (263.3p/kg).

Ireland, also a sizeable beef producer, saw its prices fall 8.5% on the year, from 327.7p/kg to 279.1p/kg. However, prices had risen on the month by about 7p/kg, but remained constant this week.

UK beef prices have been making a slow recovery lately, increasing by about 3p/kg in the past month, but were still 3.1% lower than the same week last year, dropping from 367p/kg in 2013 to 331.26p/kg.

Producers were not to blame for the political situation, said Mr Fleury, and funding to deal with the crisis should therefore not come out of the CAP budget.

“Prices have plummeted across the EU,” he said. “The commission can take emergency measures in view of the exceptional situation. We urge it to introduce measures rapidly to help support the market.

“The commission must pursue a vigorous export promotion campaign and give its support to finding new market outlets. Sanitary barriers and unnecessary obstacles to trade must also be lifted, especially in the emerging economies and developed countries”.

Average DW beef prices across the EU 28 fell nearly 5% on the year in the week ending 26 October and 0.4% on the week to 283.73p/kg.

Last year, Russia was the EU’s second biggest customer for agricultural products – accounting for almost 10% of shipments and worth about £8.8bn.

Fruit and vegetables made up most of the exports, followed by dairy commodities, pork and beef.

In 2013, the UK’s top direct exports were £5.4m of cheese and £1.5m of poultrymeat – both less than 1% of total trade.

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