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Portugal Rolls Out Farming Aid Package To Fend Off Protests

By Reuters
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Portugal Rolls Out Farming Aid Package To Fend Off Protests

Portugal's caretaker government has announced an emergency aid package worth €500 million ($543 million) for farmers as it tries to avoid the kind of mass protests causing disruption in France and elsewhere across Europe.

As part of the package, agriculture minister Maria do Ceu Antunes announced a 55% reduction in the tax on agricultural diesel fuel and an extra €120 million to support organic agriculture and mixed farming.

Some €200 million were to mitigate the impact of a long-running drought impact on farmers' income.

The measures, announced after a meeting with representatives of the country's biggest agriculture confederation CAP, meet some of its demands.

"Safeguard National Stability'

CAP, which represents 280,000 farmers and had earlier complained the government was reducing aid to organic and mixed farming, said that 'to safeguard national stability, CAP will not carry out any protest action in Portugal until a new government is in place' after a 10 March election.

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"We are well aware of the difficulties of the last four years," said do Ceu Antunes. "This package seeks to meet farmers' expectations."

In France, farmers, who have protested for over two weeks, stepped up pressure on the government by blocking highways with their tractors near Paris and setting bales of hay ablaze to partly block access to Toulouse airport.

Elsewhere, the European Commission has proposed measures to limit agricultural imports from Ukraine and offer greater flexibility on fallow land rules in a bid to quell protests by angry farmers in France and other EU members.

The Commission said it would extend the suspension of import duties on Ukrainian exports for another year to June 2025.

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