UK - The NFU is bitterly disappointed after learning that Ministers have decided not to take advantage of an EU aid package for fruit and vegetable producers impacted by the Russian trade ban.
In a letter received last week, Defra officials confirmed that ‘Ministers do not believe that destroying edible UK produce would be an acceptable use of public money.’
This is despite strong calls from the NFU and numerous other industry stakeholders that the scheme should be implemented in the UK due to distortion of markets on the back of the Russian trade ban.
Chief Horticulture and Potatoes Adviser, Chris Hartfield, said; “The reason given for not implementing the scheme in the UK is totally flawed. The amount of aid on offer was not sufficient to encourage growers to destroy produce that they would have otherwise sold.
"The simple fact is that the markets for certain sectors have collapsed due to the surplus product in the EU. Some UK growers, like others in the EU, have had no choice but to destroy produce because there is no longer a buyer and a market for it – the aid package would have simply helped minimise their losses.”
The Fruit and Veg aid package was first announced in August but, as the NFU reported in September, quickly became oversubscribed. The EU Commission subsequently launched a second scheme which offered funds for member states that directly exported to Russia plus an additional fund for those that had suffered ‘indirect’ impacts, such as market saturation.
Horticulture and Potatoes Board Chairman, Guy Poskitt, said; “By deciding not to take up this allocation, Ministers have again denied UK producers the opportunity to take up aid which is otherwise being snapped up by our European neighbours. This feels like a slap in the face. How can we compete against imports when we are consistently facing an uneven playing field?”
TheCropSite News Desk