Euro Commissioner promises to help dairy sector

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Compensation payments for dairy farmers hit by Russia's ban on food imports from the European Union will be made by the year's end - but precisely what form the payments will take and how much they will be for has yet to be decided, outgoing European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos said in Riga on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs, Ciolos said: "During August just after the announcement of the ban we discussed it several times by phone and the prime minister and the commission tried tofind very quick measures in order to avoid a quick drop in prices in the milk sector.

That's why we decided to mobilise at the end of August all the measures at our disposal, meaning to launch intervention on the markets until the end of the year. Normally this intervention stops at the end of September."

The Commission would help farmers put butter and milk powder into storage in the hope prices would eventually pick up, Ciolos added.

"I am aware that beyond market measures, some milk producers in some member states are more affected than others and in order to avoid bankruptcies or a very difficult situation we are analyzing now the possibility to give some targeted compensation.

"We have to focus our limited resources on the farmers who really need this," Ciolos said, insisting the Commission was taking the matter "very seriously". 

Straujuma stressed the fact that Latvia is one of the countries most affected by the Russian import ban. 

"The Latvian dairy sector has been very deeply affected as 30 percent of our dairy exports go to Russia... and in Latvia milk prices have fallen by around 30 percent, causing serious losses to our farmers," Straujuma said.

"We are working to find new export opportunities in Belarus and China," she said.

Ciolos' term as a Commissioner comes to an end on October 31.

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