The European Commission has released more information on the agricultural aid package first announced on Sept. 7 and briefly discussed in last week’s Export Newsline. EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan provided details of the plan in a speech to EU agriculture ministers earlier this week. Hogan noted that fresh lard has been added to the next round of private storage aid (PSA) for pork. When PSA was originally opened for eight weeks in March and April, it included only muscle cuts – a decision that drew criticism from pork producers because pork fat and offal were heavily impacted by Russia’s African swine fever (ASF) related ban on EU pork that took effect in January 2014. Hogan also pledged that the Commission will do everything possible to resolve the ASF-related impasse, but added, “We will need to see a real change in Russian attitudes first.”
The Commission also posted a Q&A sheet that includes a discussion of the pork industry aid package.
In the meantime, EU hog prices bottomed in late August and last week were back to June levels at 1.47 euros/kg, although still down 9 percent from a year ago and down 13 percent from the five-year average. In U.S. dollars, prices were $75.11/cwt, down 21 percent from last year. EU prices also finally exceeded U.S. price levels for the first time since April.