EU ministers mull more aid for farmers as Belgian producers protest

The possibility of more aid for struggling farmers was up for discussion by EU agriculture minister Monday, even as Belgian agricultural producers took to the streets to vent their anger about their deteriorating financial situation.

"We are in overproduction today in many agricultural sectors," French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said ahead of the EU talks in Brussels. "I hope that today we will get things moving."

"We hope to reach conclusions at the end of the day about some extra measures," said Dutch Agriculture Minister Martijn Van Dam, who was chairing the ministers' meeting, as his country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Farmers have been hard-hit by a Russian ban on European food imports, implemented amid political tensions linked to the crisis in Ukraine. Slumping world prices and a summer drought in Europe last year also contributed to the pressure on farms, where incomes have plunged.

The situation is said to be especially dire in the dairy, pork, fruit and vegetable sectors.

The European Commission, the European Union's executive, had already offered support measures worth 500 million euros (556 million dollars) last year, but farmers deemed them insufficient.

Ahead of the Brussels meeting, France and Germany had jointly called for more assistance to farmers - including financial aid and storage measures for excess goods - as well as help with the export of European agricultural products.

Farmers have held protests in different European countries for months. On Monday, Belgian producers were marching in Brussels.

"Our first demand is and remains fair pay for farmers in an agricultural economic context that keeps deteriorating," said the Walloon Federation of Agriculture, which helped organize the protest.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
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