April 13, 2019 / 8:53 PM / in 7 days

Colombia to give coffee farmers additional $32 mln in aid

BOGOTA, April 13 (Reuters) - Colombia will give coffee farmers an additional $32 million in subsidies and tree replacement aid, President Ivan Duque said on Saturday, amid low international prices that have left growers struggling to break even.

Coffee prices on the New York market have hovered at or below $1 per pound so far in 2019, as output surpasses demand on the global market.

Duque’s administration had previously pledged to spend 155.5 billion pesos (about $50 million) on help for growers, but the coffee-growers federation said last week that amount was not enough for the 540,000 families who make their living from coffee.

Some 38 billion pesos of the additional funds will go toward tree replacement efforts, Duque said during an event in the town of Timbio, while 60 billion will go to subsidies.

The government has agreed to give subsidies of up to 30,000 pesos per 125 kg (275 lb) shipment of coffee when the domestic price falls below 715,000 pesos per shipment. The internal price per shipment was 660,000 pesos on Friday.

The federation said in February it would discuss a possible unlinking from the New York benchmark price with other producers of high-quality arabica and buyers in an effort to sell coffee above production costs.

Exporters and importers say such a move could send buyers looking for other producers.

Colombia will push for coffee prices to be discussed at the United Nations General Assembly in September, Duque said.

“I think we need to open a great discussion at the international level about fair coffee prices, about the differentiation between arabica coffee and robusta coffee, also about the differentiation of specialty coffees,” he said.

$1 = 3,113.91 Colombian pesos Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Dan Grebler

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