Farmers expect Russia boycott to hurt

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Russia’s decision to ban produce from western countries -in response to the EU boycott– is poised to hurt Dutch farmers, prompting calls for Government support to the agricultural sector.

Citing national security and the domestic interests, President Vladimir Putin signed off on the boycott on Wednesday; a regards a list of agricultural products, including food has been announced, targeted at the Western powers that have levied economic sanctions against Russia for its alleged role in instigating separatist violence in Ukraine's east.

The measure is being regarded as dangerous to the income of Dutch farmers who export some €1.5 billion in fruits, flowers, plants, meat and dairy to Russia annually. A marginal 1 percent in comparison to the Netherlands’ €600 billion annual export value, but Albert Jan Maat of Dutch lobby group LTO Netherlands warns that it could have effects that are felt Europeanwide on the market. “The excess products could push prices down,” he said.

LTO appealed last week to the Cabinet to take crisis measures for paprika and tomatoes, as these products have become low earners. LTO says the trade war with Russia is the straw to break the camel’s back.

Political party CDA echoed the call for compensation by the cabinet. “There’s a political game being played with food supply. Farmers deserve our support to survive this boycott by Russia,” said spokesman Jaco Geurts.

Spokesman Han ten Broeke of Governing party VVD said though that the Netherlands would be better off with stable political relations. “If there is a country that is pushing all boundaries time after time, that will not benefit our exporters and companies in the long run.” Ten Broeke said he would rather find methods to minimize the effects of the boycott.

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