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EU agri ministers to offer compensation to farmers

EU agri ministers to meet on E coli outbreak

EU agri ministers to meet on E coli outbreak

As the European Union’s Agriculture Ministers hold an emergency meeting in Luxembourg to discuss the recent E coli outbreak across the region, affected farmers could be offered at least €150m in compensation.

The ministers will discuss the possibility of aid to farmers who have suffered losses as people become wary of purchasing European-grown fruit and vegetables.

Before the meeting started, the European commissioner for agriculture said €150m would be the starting proposal.

The source of the outbreak has still not been found as tests for the source of bacterium at a Gärtenhof farm in Germany were returned negative.

Twenty-two people have died already as a result of the outbreak. Hundreds more have been hospitalised.

The ministers expect to reach an agreement on a financial package for fruit and veg farmers today.

"I'm not sure that we will actually have a legal proposal on the table tomorrow ... I think our hope is that we can reach an agreement in principle," the commission's agriculture spokesman, Roger Waite, said ahead of this afternoon’s summit.

Germany originally pointed the finger at Spanish producers of cucumber but those claims have since been proven false. Spain has threatened legal action but EU leaders have said that the outbreak will affect all European producers.

“We've seen a drop in consumption. There was already a problem with consumption before any comment was made about Spanish cucumbers," said Waite.

"The important point as far as we're concerned is that we find an EU solution to what is an EU-wide problem ... that supports all fruit and vegetable producers across the Union."

Image - it was thought that the source of the outbreak was bean sprouts from a German farm but initial tests have come back negative.