The European Commission (EC) is to hand back the €435 million (£371m) it levied from farmers last year to increase its crisis reserve fund at the time, in the face of income pressures in several farming sectors.
The money, which remains unused, will be returned to producers from December 1, 2016, with the farming industry in the UK due to get a repayment worth the equivalent of just over £33m.
While commenting that 2016 has been a difficult year for many farmers and a number of market sectors, EU farm commissioner, Phil Hogan (pictured above) said he was pleased the Commission has been able to respond with a series of additional measures, without having to trigger its “last resort” crisis reserve.
“This means we have been able to react without reducing EU income support to the farming sector,” he said.
The EC explained that since its 2013 CAP reform was completed, a “relevant amount” is deducted every year from farmers’ direct payments in order to create a yearly agricultural crisis reserve.
“This money can be mobilised,” it added, “where the annual budget is not sufficient to finance the needs for market support measures, such as public intervention and private storage and exceptional measures in crisis situations.”
If not used by the end of the year, however, this reserve goes back to farmers, which is what is now happening.
The biggest repayment is being made to the French farming industry, which will get back €90m, while Germany will get €60m and Spain will receive just over €55m. The Irish farming repayment is €13.6m.