EU widens aid to dairy exporters hit by Russia food ban

Dairy cows in Latvia - file pic Image copyright EPA
Image caption Dairy cows in Latvia - the Baltic states are important food exporters to Russia

The EU has announced emergency help for dairy producers hit by the Russian ban on food imports from the EU.

The move follows EU aid worth 125m euros (£100m; $170m) announced earlier for fruit and vegetable exporters.

The European Commission will help pay storage costs for butter and skimmed milk powder. EU aid will also extend to certain cheeses. Last year EU cheese sales to Russia were nearly 1bn euros.

Russia's actions in Ukraine triggered the trade dispute.

The biggest EU dairy exporters to Russia in 2013 were: the Netherlands (301m euros), Finland (253m), Germany (184m) and Lithuania (160m).

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Finnish Valio soft cheese is among the products now banned by Russia

On 7 August Russia announced an embargo on most food imports from the EU, US, Canada, Norway, Australia and Japan, in retaliation for Western sanctions over Ukraine.

The wide-ranging sanctions are aimed at forcing the Kremlin to stop supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin denies allegations that it is supplying troops and equipment to the rebels.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said "price signals on the European dairy market show that the Russian ban is starting to hit this sector".

"In a number of member states, export earnings are being lost and new outlets need to be found. The European dairy sector needs time and help to adapt so I am announcing today targeted market support, focusing on milk powder, butter and exported cheeses. If needed, further measures will follow."

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