Romania seeks special E.coli compensation for farmers

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Romania has asked the EU to approve special compensation for farmers whose sales of fresh produce have dropped due to the deadly E. coli bacterial outbreak, the agriculture minister said Monday.

Valeriu Tabara told a press conference that a letter had been sent to European commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos urging the commission to look into special "measures of compensation for all farmers affected."

The main Romanian producers organisation, Hortifruct, expects to post losses of up to 9.0 million euros until the end of August, if the crisis drags on, he added.

But the total losses will be much higher, as independant producers have not yet submitted their figures to the ministry, Tabara stressed.

He gave assurances that Romanian vegetables did not pose any risk to consumers and urged Germany and the Czech Republic to lift their ban on imports from Romania.

European farm and food safety ministers are to hold emergency talks Tuesday in Luxembourg on the E. coli outbreak that has killed at least 23 people, all but one of them in Germany.

While the amounts and nature of compensation have still to be agreed, commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde said Monday growers who are members of producer organisations "are entitled to EU funding for withdrawing products from markets," limited to a maximum of 10 percent of annual output.

© 2011 AFP

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