The farm lobby has called on Juncker to step up “technical negotiations” with Moscow to allow the re-entry of pork fat, lard and offal on the Russian market.

In a letter sent to Juncker earlier this week, Copa-Cogeca insists that the European Commission must “develop initiatives to address the specific issue of certain pig products that fall outside of the scope of the Russian political ban, which could alleviate pressure on the internal market”, Agra Facts reported.

These trade restrictions were introduced in January 2014 in response to African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks in the Baltics and Poland, for sanitary rather than political reasons. This was ahead of a wider political embargo on European agricultural products including pork and hams in August 2014.

As outlined by Copa-Cogeca, Russia’s unilateral move to ban European farm exports and its refusal to recognise the EU's system of regionalisation to control disease outbreaks has badly affected the pork sector.

Industry figures suggest that EU producers have lost more than €5bn since the key destination for 800,000 tonnes of pigmeat was lost.

Bilateral talks

Speaking to Agra Facts, EU secretary general Pekka Pesonen insisted that pork-producing countries must not engage in bilateral talks on lifting the ban on their own exports, claiming such a move would only weaken the EU’s position.

The former Finnish state secretary has been putting pressure on Juncker to work towards the resumption of trade, expressing his hope that the Russian authorities will finally be ready to align its measures with international norms and correctly interpret the principle of regionalisation.

The six Polish farm organisations at Copa-Cogeca do not support the letter, calling instead for “additional exceptional assistance” to alleviate the dire situation among pig farmers in their country.

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