Putin’s Food Ban Stings Europe’s Farmers, Russia’s ‘Café Culture’
The effects of Russia’s food ban have begun to manifest in Europe this week. Farmers in the EU will be paid to destroy food that would normally be sold to Russia, indicating that the ban, which is entering its third week, may just be starting to hit home for Europeans and Russians alike.
CNN reported on Monday that EU officials have set aside about $167 million to pay European farmers to destroy a range of different perishable foods, either by harvesting them before they ripen or by allowing them to rot on the vine. The measure immediately affects farmers who produce apples, pears, tomatoes, and cucumbers — all of which are currently in full season.
CNN notes that prices for some of the fruits and vegetables have fallen by more than 50 percent as farmers struggle to find alternative markets for the produce. Most farmers, CNN notes, have no way of storing the vegetables and fruits if they do not find a market, though farmers are being encouraged to donate produce to food banks and soup kitchens rather than leaving the fruits and vegetables in the field.
“This is a measure aimed at reducing the level of supply so the prices don’t drop to crisis levels,” European Commission spokesperson Roger Waite told CNN. Last year, the EU exported $2.7 million worth of fruits and vegetables to Russia, according to the news source.
Farmers and food cooperatives remain concerned that the food ban may cause long-term damage to the food sector, despite the EU’s current measures for repaying farmers for food they no longer have a market for.