Credit: EU Observer

Luxembourg's Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development has announced a series of support measures to ensure the continuation of the agricultural sector's activity.

Agriculture and food production are priority and essential sectors. Farmers, wine-growers and horticulturalists can therefore continue to carry out all their seasonal work, sowing, preparing fields and vines and feeding their animals, while respecting the hygiene and safety measures imposed across the country. This also applies to the production of animal feed. The food production and processing chain, direct selling and food transport must remain operational in order to guarantee food security in Luxembourg and in Europe.

During the meeting of the Committee on Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development which took place this afternoon by videoconference, Minister Romain Schneider presented to the deputies the various measures which have been put in place to guarantee the maintenance of the activity of the agricultural sector.

The package of measures to support the agricultural sector include:

• special exemptions for professionals in the sector to guarantee the continuity of the food supply chain
• guarantee a certain liquidity to companies

Minister Schneider stressed that farmers and all professionals in the sector are an essential and essential pillar in supplying the food chain, which is vital for the entire population.

1. Maintenance of essential activities related to the agricultural sector:
• acquisition of agricultural, viticultural, horticultural and forestry products,
• trips to the workplace for the exercise of professional activity,
• travel to commercial entities and service providers,
• troubleshooting, dispatching, depollution (including removal of dead animals) and maintenance activities necessary for safety reasons

2. Responding to immediate liquidity needs

In order to counter a lack of liquidity within agricultural holdings, the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development has immediately paid aid from the 1st and 2nd pillar of the CAP (+/- €25m) for 2019.

3. Provision of additional liquidity

The Government has set up an economic stabilisation programme which can also benefit certain companies in the agricultural sector:
• pay non-repayable financial assistance in the amount of €5,000 to companies with ≤ 9 employees, which are forced to cease their activity following the amended regulation of 18 March 2020
• grant financial assistance of a maximum amount of €500,000 in the form of a repayable advance to cover operating costs,
• postpone the repayment of loans to better cope with cash flow difficulties,
• meet liquidity needs by early repayment of VAT credit balances below €10,000,
• automatically grant requests for the cancellation of tax advances for the first 2 quarters of 2020. This includes income tax (local authorities) and municipal business tax,
• automatically grant requests for deferral of payment (without interest) of income tax, municipal business tax and wealth tax,
• set the deadline for the submission of tax returns for legal and natural persons to 30 June 2020.

4. Extension of the time limit for the request for direct payments

Following the authorisation of the European Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development has granted a one-month extension of the deadline for farmers to submit their requests for direct payments (request for surface aid ).

5. Implementation of the jobswitch platform

Seasonal job advertisements (viticulture, horticulture) are online on the platform which connects the profiles sought with job seekers.

In addition, the MBR Maschinenring is another important point of contact for advising and assisting farmers, wine-growers and horticulturalists who need labour in the context of self-help on the farm. The State bears part of the costs of mutual assistance, particularly in the event of illness, maternity leave or the death of the farm manager. This aid is subject to the condition that the assistance is provided through the MBR Maschinenring.

6. Partial unemployment
This system allows companies to keep their employees trained and equipped with skills essential for the proper functioning of their activities.
In order to speed up and facilitate the procedure for applying for partial unemployment for force majeure linked to the Covid-19 crisis, a new automated system has been put in place and allows companies to submit their request for partial unemployment via an online form on the site:

7. Abolition of the 2020 subscription on

In the context of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Government, in collaboration with the players involved, has decided to cancel the annual fee of €500 for companies present on as well as those wishing to join the online sales platform.

8. More flexibility for the payment of social security contributions

Provide flexibility in cash management and payment of social security contributions.

Finally, the Ministry of Agriculture, in the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, is in permanent contact with the agricultural sector and that of agrifood processing in order to be able to react quickly in the event of disruption of the markets respectively of the functioning of the production chain.

In this context, Romain Schneider stressed that this package of measures constitutes a stabilisation package and that a detailed analysis will be made after the crisis period, as indeed in all sectors.