ATHENS – Greek regional authorities are trying to figure out how much a Russian food embargo imposed on the West in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine will cost farmers and the state.
Officials in seven prefectures are assessing the impact, particularly on prized Greek peaches, ahead of a meeting on Aug. 14 in Brussels of European agricultural experts.
Authorities in Imathia, Pella, Kozani, Larissa, Florina, Pieria and Thessaloniki have started recording the value of the planned exports of peaches and other products that have been canceled by Russian firms.
The information is being sent to the Agricultural Development Ministry, whose officials have been working closely with those at the Development and Finance ministries to draft a strategy for minimizing the impact of the Russian ban on Greek producers.
The government said the farmers would be held harmless with payments from the state or European Union, or both, but have to get a waiver from rules preventing agricultural subsidies.
Agricultural Development Minister Giorgos Karasmanis said he had discussed the problem with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos, Kathimerini said.
He added that Greece – together with Spain, Italy and France, which also export peaches – had sent a joint memo to the European Commission, proposing a common approach to dealing with the fallout of the ban.
A statement by the Agricultural Development Ministry noted that a “first round of talks on the expert level” in Brussels would lead to the calculation of damages for each of the affected EU member states.
Speaking to SKAI TV, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas would not say what amount in damages Greece is planning to request from the EU but said that if it’s not enough that Greece would ask for more.
Estimates of the losses likely to be sustained by producers this year range from 50-200 million euros. Peach producers from the northern region of Macedonia compiled a joint petition with representatives of road haulage firms, packaging companies and other
The farmers are appealing to Brussels for immediate action to avert an “economic disaster” that they said the Russian embargo would bring.
According to the petition, the Russian ban “is provoking incalculable damage to the peach industry in the middle of the harvest, the most profitable season.”