* Farmers concerned gluts driving down prices
* EU emergency fund holds some 420 million euros
* Peach, nectarine growers already promised help
* Emergency agriculture ministers meeting expected in Sept.
(Updates throughout with outcome of meeting, quotes)
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Aug 14 The European Commission will
announce more help for EU fruit and vegetable producers early
next week to try to stave off a price collapse after Russia's
ban on most Western food imports.
Russia has declared a one-year embargo on meat, fish, dairy,
fruit and vegetables from the United States, the European Union,
Canada, Australia and Norway in retaliation for Western economic
sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.
Analysts say Russia could be inflicting the sharpest pain on
itself because it will drive up food prices for its consumers
and stoke inflation, but EU farmers are concerned that the gluts
of fresh fruit and other produce they face will sap the value of
their products on the European market.
The European Commission, the EU executive, has already
announced support for peach and nectarine growers, increasing
the amount of surplus production that can be withdrawn from the
market and distributed free while compensating producers
It says it plans similar steps to help growers of produce
such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and mushrooms.
"As of early next week, I will come forward with the next
market stabilisation measure, targeting a number of perishable
fruit and vegetable products which are now clearly in
difficulty," Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said in a
statement after an emergency meeting of EU farm experts.
"I am prepared to propose EU-wide measures as and when
Following reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy
completed in 2013, the bloc has an emergency fund of 420 million
euros ($562 million) to compensate producers for sudden market
In all, EU farm exports to Russia are worth about 11 billion
euros a year, roughly 10 percent of all EU agricultural sales.
PAIN UNEQUALLY SPREAD
Some nations are more affected than others. Poland is
suffering from the loss of its biggest apple buyer and France,
the bloc's leading agricultural economy, fears that the hundreds
of thousands of Polish apples Russia does not import will drive
down the value of French produce.
French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said that
France was among the countries that had called for the speedy
imposition of measures to reduce supply.
Other measures under consideration are efforts to improve
marketing strategies domestically and in new markets.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, EU officials said they
were also looking at trying to dissuade alternative suppliers -
such as Brazil and Egypt - from selling to Russia the food
Moscow will no longer receive from Europe or other Western
One option could be to take a case to the World Trade
Organization, though lawyers in Brussels have said that could be
a mistake when the EU's main concern is to de-escalate the
The issue could be raised as part of a wider debate on the
Ukraine crisis at an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers
in Brussels on Friday.
EU agriculture ministers are also expected to review the
situation further at an extraordinary meeting in early September
as a follow up to Thursday's meeting of agriculture experts
representing the 28 member states.
(1 US dollar = 0.7483 euro)
(1 US dollar = 0.7475 euro)
(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft, Julia Fioretti and
Martin Santa in Brussels and Andrew Callus and Gus Trompiz in
Paris; Editing by Dale Hudson and David Goodman)