EU offers financial aid to vegetable growers

Tuesday 07 June 2011 23.18
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Rosa Aguilar - Compensation 'is not enough for Spain'
Rosa Aguilar - Compensation 'is not enough for Spain'
E coli - 22 dead in outbreak
E coli - 22 dead in outbreak

Spain's farm minister has said an EU proposal to offer €150m in compensation to farmers affected by an E coli outbreak is insufficient and producers should be fully compensated.

Spanish fruit and vegetable producers have been hardest hit by the collapse in sales during the crisis.

German officials initially blamed cucumbers from Spain for causing the outbreak that has so far killed 23 people.

The country's farm minister Rosa Aguilar has said that the compensation 'is not enough for Spain, what we will propose is that there should be a response to all producers for 100% of the real market value of the losses.'

EU farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos earlier said that the money would go to growers of fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers and courgettes who have been affected since the disease outbreak at the beginning of last month.

Mr Ciolos said 'I'll start our proposition at €150m', although EU officials said that the figure was just a starting point for discussions, and the total cost would depend on how long the crisis lasts.

The Commission proposal would see producers receive up to 30% of the total value of products they withdraw from the market, said EU agriculture spokesman Roger Waite.

But ministers could decide to increase the percentage, and the total sum available, before the plan is put to a formal vote by EU member states in Brussels next Tuesday, Mr Waite said.

Once approved, EU financial aid could be released to farmers by the end of June, he added.

Spain has estimated its own losses at €200m per week since Germany blamed its produce for the outbreak. The source of the infection has not yet been identified.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has said that there are no indications that any exports entering here have been infected with the E coli virus and said there have so far been no reports of associated illnesses.

The FF leader Micheál Martin, TD, criticised the fact that a dedicated inter agency taskforce had not been set up to deal with the issue.

Enda Kenny said that such an agency may be established if needs be following today's meeting of EU agriculture ministers.