Complex PSA challenge for Europe’s farm ministers

EU farm ministers will need to produce a different form of private storage aid (PSA) to the one used earlier this year, if that proves to be one of the measures turned to during their emergency meeting in Brussels today.

That was the view given to Pig World by AHDB Pork’s market specialist manager, Stephen Howarth, when asked how he reacted to the growing speculation that the re-introduction of PSA is high on the pigmeat action list for today’s meeting.

“The effectiveness of any new PSA will depend on which products are covered,” said Mr Howarth (pictured above). “The previous one only covered the main primal cuts, which is not where the real problems are.

“A scheme which includes products such as fats, which were most affected by the Russian ban, might have more impact.

“Having said that, the problem with PSA is that it only removes supplies temporarily. Given that there isn’t that much prospect that the Russian ban will be lifted, all it might do is push the oversupply a few months down the line, possibly delaying any recovery that might be underway by then.”

With around 4000 protesting farmers due to be gathered outside the meeting venue, ministers will clearly be under pressure to deliver worthwhile measures from their discussions. That will include debating the seemingly impossible challenge from Irish farmers, of securing the re-opening of the Russian market.

The pre-meeting view from Brussels on that issue is that the Russians are only likely to agree if there is some form of “regionalisation” applied, an option which the European Commission has always fiercely resisted.

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