Impact of bluetongue disease on sheep-breeding activities

Sheep breeders in Romania have sustained losses of over EUR 8 million as a result of bluetongue disease. Normally over five million head are exported annually. However, countries such Jordan, Libya, Lebanon and Turkey have now suspended imports of sheep from Romania following the spread of the disease.

As a result, over one million head of sheep have remained unsold over the past three months. Large surpluses on farms have caused a drastic fall in prices and saturation of the Romanian market, compounded by relatively low domestic sheep meat consumption.

While the export restrictions do not apply to processed meat, processors are paying very low prices. Sheep breeders urgently need funding for the provision of small processing and freezing centres so as to prevent mounting losses.

Sheep exports should accordingly be given priority with regard to the emergency funding granted by the Commission for the identification of new market outlets following the Russian embargo.

In view of this:

1. What funding does the Commission have available to assist the sheep breeders affected?
2. What specific measures has the Commission taken to date with a view to concluding new export contracts with third countries?