Brussels: The EU said Monday it was looking for support from the European Investment Bank at crisis talks in Brussels aimed at helping dairy and other farmers hit hard by plunging prices.
Around 100 farmers protested as agriculture ministers gathered just six months after Brussels announced a 500-million-euro ($556 million) emergency package to tackle a crisis partly blamed on a Russian embargo.
The European Union`s agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan told the ministers that EIB Vice President Pim Van Ballekom was on hand to offer solutions.
"I look forward to his insights about the work of the EIB and the potentials offered by using financial instruments," Hogan said in remarks circulated by the European Commission, the executive of the 28-nation bloc.
The Commission "accepts that it now has a responsibility to complement the efforts made by governments," Hogan said earlier as he acknowledged the "depth and duration of the crisis."
Hogan, a former Irish environment minister, said he "understands fully the situation across Europe and is anxious to deliver a meaningful package of measures to support European farmers."
A combination of factors, including changing dietary habits, slowing Chinese demand and a Russian embargo on Western products in response to sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, has pushed down prices for beef, pork and milk.
The European Copa-Cogeca farmers union said immediately after the September crisis meeting -- where thousands of farmers protested -- the EU aid was nowhere near enough to compensate farmers for the loss of their main export market Russia.
France has since stepped up contacts with EU governments saying it has rallied a majority around measures "to stabilise then reduce" milk production.
Overproduction of milk since quotas were abolished in April 2015 have led to the collapse in prices.
France`s agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll warned the situation could get much worse if EU states were not capable of better coordination.
Dutch Agriculture Minister Martijn van Dam, whose country currently holds the EU rotating presidency, said the ministers will meet with members of the European Investment Bank to discuss what tools can be used to aid the agriculture market.
Ireland`s agriculture minister Simon Coveney said there would be no decision to reverse the abolition of dairy quotas.
Coveney expected the EU to invest more in promoting dairy products while he said he will call for abolishing import levies on fertilisers for 18 months as a way to ease farmer costs.