EU to extend support for wine, fruit and vegetable sectors

FILE PHOTO: A worker harvests grapes at the Domaine Pinson vineyard in Chablis, France, September 21, 2021. Picture taken with a drone September 21, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The European Commission said on Wednesday it would increase support and extend existing measures for the wine, fruit and vegetable sectors after they suffered from spring frosts, floods and heat waves this year.

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said the sectors' problems had come on top of a difficult 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.

"These much-needed support measures will (relieve) producers across the EU during these difficult times, on top of the ones already put forward in 2020 and extended in 2021," he said.

For wine, the EU budget contribution to harvest insurance has been increased to 80% from 70%, and the bloc has doubled the support it provides to cover the cost of setting up mutual funds.

For fruit and vegetables, the EU will provide compensation to producer organisations of at least 85% of last year's production levels even if this year's value is lower.

The compensation is offered if production is down at least 35% from the previous year due to natural disasters, climatic events, plant diseases or pest infestations.

The Commission has already offered support to the wine sector, with measures in 2020 including the provision of more funds for vineyard conversion and green harvesting. Other measures have helped fruit and vegetable producers.

These "flexibility measures" would be extended until Oct. 15, 2022, the Commission said.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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