€70 million to further support European fruit producers
The measures were first introduced by the Commission in the wake of the Russian import ban in August 2014.
The extended scheme is worth up to €70 million to EU fruit producers, and provides a safety net for producers who might not find a market outlet for their products as a result of the import ban.
It will compensate European fruit farmers who choose for example to distribute their excess products to organisations or make use of it for other purposes.
The extended scheme comes in addition to a number of other exceptional support measures for the agricultural market related to the Russian ban.
Regular market monitoring and assessment by the Commission shows that these measures have improved the market situation for non-permanent crops (typically vegetables).
Most of the production affected by the Russian import ban has been redirected to alternative markets and market prices have stabilised.
However, since so-called permanent crops (fruit trees) are less able to adapt to changing situations, the new measures are specifically designed to help this sector.
Under the exceptional measures, individual producers benefit from higher rates of EU co-financing than under regular support measures.
Farmers receive 100% EU-funded support for withdrawals for so-called free distribution (i.e. giving the fruit away to charity for consumption) which avoids food waste.
Fruit that is withdrawn from the market but not actually consumed (for example, sent directly to composting), or that is harvested before it is ripe (so-called green-harvesting) or not harvested at all, receives lower levels of support.
The scheme covers a maximum quantity of 165,835 tonnes of fruit, shared between four different types of trees: apples and pears; plums; citrus fruits; and peaches and nectarines.
The measures cover 12 Member States, and different withdrawal volumes will apply to ensure that the financial support reaches the producers most in need (see table below).
In addition to the extension of these exceptional measures, European fruit and vegetables producers continue to benefit from other measures under the EU's common agricultural policy such as direct payments, rural development funding and financial support for producer organisations, reaching a total of around €700 million a year. ■