German group says more aid needed for farmers hit by E. Coli

11th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The EU should boost the support offered to farmers hit by a bacteria outbreak that has cost hundreds of millions euros in lost sales around the continent, a German farming leader said.

Head of the German Farmers Federation Gert Sonnleiter wants the EU's agricultural commissioner to increase the 210 million euro (303 million dollars) offer to injured farmers, the Tagesspiegel reported Saturday.

"Damages in the whole of the EU have reached between 500 million and 600 million euros," including a 65 million euro loss suffered by German farmers alone, Sonnleiter said.

German health authorities told consumers to avoid cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce on suspicions that those vegetable were the source of the bacteria that has killed 32 people in Germany and another in Sweden.

The outbreak of the virulent E. coli strain EHEC-0104 has so far affected 14 countries.

On Friday Germany officials said they had identified vegetable sprouts as the likely contamination source, creating hope the outbreak would soon be contained.

German authorities had initially identified cucumbers imported from Spain as responsible for the outbreak, but later retracted the statement based on subsequent tests, infuriating Madrid and sparking threats of lawsuits.

Spanish farmers say they have lost 225 million euros every week since the crisis erupted.

Russia imposed a blanket ban of vegetables from the 27-nation EU bloc, a move blasted by EU officials.

Moscow agreed at a summit with the EU on Friday to lift the ban although it was not immediately clear when the announcement would come into effect.

© 2011 AFP

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