AMSTERDAM Aug 27 Tonnes of tomatoes, pears and
apples were being dumped by Dutch farmers on Wednesday as they
signed up for compensation after prices plunged in response to
Russian sanctions on Western food imports, officials said.
Around 45 major food growers registered for EU compensation
with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, which is coordinating
the Dutch programme, under which their oversupply can be donated
to charity or destroyed.
The Netherlands, the world's second-largest exporter of
agricultural products, sells hundreds of millions of euros worth
of vegetables, fruit and food products to Russia every year.
The Dutch statistics office has estimated the country's
agriculture sector will suffer about 300 million euros ($395.5
million) in lost business this year, with Russia accounting for
about 10 percent of Dutch exports of vegetables, fruit and meat.
Wednesday is the first day Dutch farmers could sign up for
the compensation for either having their produce destroyed or
given to the Food Bank, a charity that supplies food to 35,000
needy Dutch households.
"We are talking about a very large quantity of fruit and
vegetables," said Michel van der Maas, a spokesman for the
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, who said the exact amount was
still unknown. "It's many tonnes."
"Most of the products are being taken to destruction plants,
rather than the Food Bank," he said. "There hasn't been a lot of
interest from the producers" to donate to charity, he said.
The European Union and Washington imposed sanctions in the
wake of the shooting down on July 17 of Malaysian Airlines
flight MH17, allegedly by pro-Russian separatists in eastern
The downing of the plane had particular significance in the
Netherlands since two-thirds of the 298 victims were Dutch
The sanctions flooded the European market with cheap farm
produce, prices of which were already depressed due to
oversupply from a good summer crop.
Prices for major export products, such as apples, pears,
tomatoes and peppers, fell by more than 50 percent at one point,
but have stabilised in recent days due to poor weather.
Several tonnes of tomatoes were expected at the Food Bank,
said Monny Querido, a board member.
"It started with the disastrous shooting down of MH17 ...
but that has brought good news to the clients of the Food Bank,
who will be getting some very welcome fruit and vegetables,"
Querido said in an interview. "We expect the first loads of
thousands of kilos of tomatoes to arrive later today."
The bulk of the compensation for the Dutch farmers will come
out of 125 million euros from the EU Commission's Common
Agricultural Policy fund. Separately, the Dutch government said
it would foot the bill for logistics, by transporting excess
produce to eight Food Bank distribution centres across the
Farmers will be compensated if the price of their products
has fallen below a threshold set by the European Union.
The Dutch Safety Board is expected to release the results of
an investigation into the MH17 disaster next week, but it will
not assign blame.
(1 US dollar = 0.7585 euro)
(Editing by David Holmes)