Achim Irimescu: EC compensation for Romanian vegetable growers, damage estimated at 10 million euros
Romanian vegetable growers will receive compensation from the European Commission for the loss incurred as a result of the Russian Federation’s embargo on food imports from the European Union; the damage is currently assessed at 10 million euros for 22,000 tons of vegetables left in stock, representative of Romania’s Delegation to the European Commission and former Secretary of State with the Ministry of Agriculture Achim Irimescu told Agerpres.
‘Romania’s fruit and vegetable sector is the only one affected by the embargo set by the Russian Federation. The damage is estimated at about 10 million euros for 22,000 tons of vegetables, specifically cucumbers and tomatoes, which are now in stock because the producers cannot find an outlet market. Moreover, the prices have dropped by about 16 euro cents per kilo,’ Achim Irimescu said at the end of the meeting this Thursday, in Brussels, of EU farm experts.
He stressed that Romania has asked the European Commission to enforce a crisis measure given that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has an intervention instrument in place – the Crisis Fund, which has 433 million euros pooled in support of the European producers.
‘Romania asked that the same measures be applied as in 2011, during the E.coli crisis that hit the cucumber markets. The Commission will proceed to assessing the situation and will officially announce next week the proposed measures; it will then adopt a regulation in about two weeks. Probably the measure will apply retroactively for whoever can justify [losses], that is also previous to the date of the regulation’s adoption; so not just the members of producer organizations, but other producers too will qualify for compensation. After the regulation is adopted, the data must be referred to the Commission and the amount of compensation and the form thereof will be determined on this basis. The EU Agriculture Council will meet again on September 5,’ said Irimescu.
The representative of Romania’s Delegation to the European Commission said that the measure of support to be adopted by the EC will definitely be in the form of withdrawal and free distribution, as in the recent case of peaches and nectarines, which means that vegetables will be distributed for free in canteens, hospitals, etc.
Talks at the meeting also focused on other affected sectors, on dairy and meat products, as Romanian producers announced a 10 percent reduction for poultry and pork prices.
‘We are not directly impacted in this sector. Last year our exports to the Russian Federation stood at mere 41 million euros – vegetal products only – because we didn’t export animal products. The price reduction is indeed 10 percent for animal products, but for fruit and vegetables it could go as high as 60 percent,’ added Achim Irimescu.
The countries worst hit by the Russian embargo on agri-food products overall are Lithuania with 900,000 tons; Poland – 800,000 tons; followed by Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain and Finland. The countries whose fruit sector is most affected are Poland, Lithuania, Spain, Belgium and Greece, while Lithuania and Poland are severely hit in their vegetables trade.
Romania’s representative explained that all member states and the DG Agri Director attended the expert meeting. The member states were surveyed about the impact on their agri-food sector, the impacted products, price developments, the overall impact, on whether producer organizations have crisis intervention mechanisms in place and about member states’ proposals to balance the situation.
Romanian fruit and vegetable producers have asked the Ministry of Agriculture to inform the European Commission about the losses they incur as a fallout of the embargo imposed by the Russian Federation on EU countries, advancing 300 million euros as the figure required to cover the costs.
Aurel Tanase, managing director of Romania’s National Vegetables and Fruit Inter-branch Organization ‘Prodcom’ said at the beginning of this week that fruit and vegetable producers are unable to further sell this year’s production for profit because of the invasion of fruit and vegetables initially intended for the Russian market and which, following the embargo imposed by the Russian Federation on EU member countries, were diverted to the Romanian market, thus snagging domestic and intra-Community trade for Romanian operators.
Minister of Agriculture Daniel Constantin said recently that Romania will not be directly affected by Russia’s decision to ban agri-food imports from the US and the European Union (EU), as its exports amounted to a modest 41 million euros in 2013.
On the other hand, Constantin did not shut out potential effects that could occur in time on the domestic market because of a large inflow of products from countries that were traditional heavy exporters to Russia.