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Russian import ban prompts emergency summit of EU agriculture ministers

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: September 03, 2014

Environment Secretary Liz Truss wil lbe among EU agriculture chiefs meeting to discuss the Russian import ban on Friday

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The effect of the Russian import ban on agriculture in the UK and the European Union is to be discussed at an extraordinary meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels on Friday.

Numerous companies - including Somerset cheese maker Wyke Farms - have reported difficulties because of the embargo, put in place by President Putin in response to the EU's own sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The meeting, which comes almost a month to the day after Russia first closed food trade with Europe, will be attended by Defra Secretary of State Liz Truss, with her counterparts at the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments, Richard Lochhead MSP, Michelle O’Neill MLA and Rebecca Evans AM. 

The European Commission has announced €125 million of EU support measures for growers in response to the restrictions. The UK Government and its agencies are currently putting the measures in place to make the aid package available to UK growers.

The NFU has urged retailers to not take advantage of producers while the ban remains in place, and is asking farmers to tell it of any such practices. 

It said: "The NFU will be monitoring this situation, but expects the major retailers to behave responsibly and not exploit these circumstances, and to back British growers, and pay a price that reflects the quality of the product.”

There are concerns that the ban could be a particular problem for the dairy sector, compounding a further fall at the Global Dairy Trade auction yesterday

The ban has also concerned apple growers in neighbouring Poland, where the public is being encouraged to drink more cider to use up the glut of apples normally sold across the border. 

And in Russia itself, the ban is, predictably, forcing up food prices, with meat in the western cities of Moscow and St Petersburg up by as much as 25 per cent. But it is the poorer eastern cities - despite their proximity to suppliers outside the ban - who are feeling the pinch most. Suppliers of chicken legs are making the most of the ban and prices have rocketed by 60 per cent. 

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