The European Commission yesterday presented a €500m package of measures to support EU farmers.

Here are some of the key outcomes:

1. Advancing Direct payments

EU Member States can pay up to 50% of their direct payment envelope from October 16, provided that the necessary controls have been carried out.

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Usual earliest date is December 1 – but existing rules already provide this flexibility. The Commission will now propose to increase this to 70% .

Advancing certain Rural Development payments:

EU Member States can already advance the area and animal-related payments for rural development (such as agri-environment, organic farming, areas with natural constraints, animal welfare) by paying up to 75% from October 16.

The Commission will now propose to increase this rate to 85%.

2.Targeted aid

The most significant part of the comprehensive package will be provided to all EU Member States in envelopes to support the dairy sector.

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The Commission is working on a package of targeted aid for all EU Member States, having particular regard to those Member States which have been most affected by market developments.

The Commission will shortly finalise the distribution key for these national envelopes.

3. Extending and enhancing Private Storage Aid

In order to ease market pressure, the Commission has already extended the private storage aid and public intervention periods for butter and skimmed milk powder until next year.

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The Commission is now working on an enhanced scheme for SMP focusing on higher aid levels as well as on ways to ensure that the product is stored for the appropriate time to make the EU scheme even more effective in alleviating pressure on the supply side.

A new private storage scheme for pigmeat: the Commission is ready to table a proposal to open a new PSA scheme for pigmeat.

4.Tackling supply chain challenges

The Commission will set up a new, dedicated High Level Group to focus on a number of specific and clearly defined issues. This will include credit for farmers, and financial and risk hedging instruments such as futures markets for agricultural products.

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On this HLG, Commissioner Hogan will work closely with Commissioner Bienkowska. (A High Level Group normally comprises senior officials from national EU Ministries).

5. No intervention price increase

Talk in Brussels that a possible intervention price increase will be discussed again later this week. The Commission proposals presented to Member States yesterday did not include this as an option.

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Many EU Member States including Ireland have called for a review of intervention pricing, however to date the Commission has remained steadfast in its opposition.