BRUSSELS--The European Union next week will start a program to compensate farmers particularly hard hit by Russia's ban on imports of European fruit and vegetables, the first step in what will likely be a broader drive to cushion the blow to producers.

The import bans, which Moscow adopted last week in response to the EU's decision to place economic sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis, prompted an outcry from European farmers that they are being asked to shoulder an unfair share of the costs for Europe's policy on Ukraine.

The bans have already caused the price of some agricultural goods to drop, as farmers scrambled to find a substitute for their largest non-EU export market, worth EUR8.8 billion last year.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, will propose to use the bloc's funds to compensate farmers of perishable fruits and vegetables now in the growing season. These will be certain varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, peppers and cauliflower, an EU official said. The EU will also consider support for other kinds of produce, such as apples and pears, in the weeks to come, officials said.

"I am prepared to propose EU-wide measures as and when needed," Dacian Ciolo , the EU's farm commissioner, said in a statement. "Producers from across the EU can be reassured. We are following every sector and every market and as material risks emerge, I will act."

The money will be used to compensate farmers for taking their produce off the market for human consumption. The first round of compensation will cost the EU tens of millions of euros, the EU official indicated.

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August 14, 2014 11:25 ET (15:25 GMT)

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