EU takes action over Russian import ban

The European Union has taken its first action to ease the pressure on prices caused by Russia’s ban on Western food imports.

Agricultural commissioner Dacian Ciolos has announced a “reinforced market monitoring mechanism”, with each country attending weekly EU meetings to report the latest data on the effect of the ban.

Mr Ciolos also unveiled support for peach and nectarine growers, letting them buy back a proportion of supplies to give support to prices.

Russia was the EU’s second biggest customer for agricultural exports, accounting for about 10% of shipments and worth £8.8bn in 2013.

See also: Russia import ban raises fears of lower UK prices

Fears have grown in the last fortnight that the extra supplies – particularly of fruit, vegetables, dairy, pork and beef – could dampen prices in the next few months.

Mr Ciolos said that through the new CAP regime the EU had the financial and legal tools to act.

“I am prepared to propose EU-wide measures as and when needed,” he said. “Producers from across the EU can be reassured.

“We are following every sector and every market, and as material risks emerge, I will act.

“Market confidence through European solidarity is the overriding objective.”

Among British farmers, the dairy industry is forecast to see the biggest effect from the ban.

DairyCo has said that while there would be “little direct impact” for the UK, there would likely be downward pressure on wholesale markets through their links with Europe.

The UK exported less than 1% of its cheese, butter and skim milk powder to Russia in 2013, but the federation bought 27% of the EU’s cheese exports and 19% of its butter.

Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of trade association Dairy UK, said her group would continue to work with Defra and the European Dairy Association to monitor the potential effect and mitigate any consequences on the sector.

“There is no doubt the ban will have both direct and indirect effects on the European dairy industry before the market reacts and delivers some equilibrium,” she said.

The European Commission said it would announce new measures for the vegetable sector early this week and it was considering action for different animal products.

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