EU extends emergency help for crisis-hit dairy farmers

The European Commission will extend emergency help for crisis-hit dairy farmers, after Russia rolled on its trade ban for one more year.

Farm commissioner Phil Hogan has announced plans to continue public intervention and private storage aid schemes beyond the 30 September end date.

Under intervention, authorities can buy up dairy products to ease the pressure on price from a glut, while private storage pays companies to keep goods off the market.

But Mr Hogan has turned down calls to raise the butter and skim milk powder intervention price, which works out roughly as 21 cents/litre (15p/litre).

This is far below May’s average EU milk price of 30 cents/litre (21p/litre), which is causing farmers across the Continent to lose money.

Speaking outside a meeting of farm ministers, Mr Hogan said he was glad to respond to politicians’ concerns.

See also: Collaborate to beat dairy crisis, Dutch farmers tell British

“It is important we are proactive and we are continuing to support producers who will obviously have a difficult time arising from this product ban again in 2015 and 2016,” he said.

Russia’s decision to block Western food imports last August piled pressure on the dairy, pig and fruit and vegetable sectors.

Last month, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev confirmed the ban would last at least 12 more months.

On Monday (13 July), Mr Hogan extended help to fresh-produce growers but rejected further help for pig producers.

He turned down a request by Austria for the commission to reopen private storage for pigmeat, which ran for eight weeks from March.

The EU has spent about €220m (£156m) so far helping producers hit by Russia’s embargo, Mr Hogan also told ministers.

Almost three-quarters of that total was spent on fruit and vegetable private storage, with €53m (£38m) going towards the dairy sector and €17m (£12m) on pork.