EU FARM LEADERS URGE AGRICULTRUE MINISTERS NOT TO MAKE FARMERS AND COOPERATIVES UNCOMPETITIVE

In a meeting with the Belgian Presidency on EU Commission plans on the future Common Agricultural (CAP), Copa-Cogeca urged EU Farm Ministers to help make farmers and their cooperatives more competitive on domestic and international markets.

The meeting came as Ministers debated the plans in Brussels. Speaking to Belgian Farm Minister Sabine Laruelle, Copa President Padraig Walshe warned “What the Commission is proposing in its plans is first, that farmers should receive a basic income payment which is lower than their current payment. They  will only be able to top that up if they carry out extra environmental measures. If society wants to introduce more environmental measures into the CAP, they should pay for it as the market will not reward farmers for it. They are already being confronted with more and more challenges, notably extreme price volatility, costly regulations and obligations as well as the fight against climate change. Other countries do not have to meet the EU’s high food safety and environmental standards. Any further constraints will mean a further deterioration in EU farmers’ competitive position and a cut in their incomes when they already earn half of average EU earnings. It is simply unacceptable and will prevent them from providing secure, safe food supplies for consumers. Whilst addressing some environmental concerns, the Commisison plans fail to address the economic problems of farmers. Reinforcing the economic production role of farmers must be central to the future CAP”.

Cogeca President Paolo Bruni meanwhile insisted that the  “EU Commission plans on the future CAP lack concrete measures needed to strengthen EU farmers and cooperatives position in the food chain and ensure that they get a fairer share of the retail price. To give EU farmers and cooperatives a stronger position in the EU food chain, European competition rules must be adjusted to enable producer organisations, such as cooperatives, to grow in size and scale, increasing their competitivity and contributing to a rebalanced food chain. There also needs to be fairer contractual relations. The CAP of the future needs a strong EU budget. The public should understand that spending less than 1% of total EU public expenditure is a very efficient way of ensuring food security, stability in a very uuncertain world”.

He continued: “Referring to the Commissions’ latest proposals on future EU quality policy, we welcome the fact that the role of producer groups in managing the EU’s wide array of regional specialities, or products covered by EU legislation on protected geographical indications (PGIs), has been recognised for the first time. But we want producer organisations to be able to manage supply and demand. We are also disappointed that  “direct sales” of products, between farmers and consumers, were excluded from the package. In order to clarify this new concept, it is important to have a wide and constructive debate on this question in the near future”.

Finally, both Presidents thanked Ms Laruelle for her support during the Belgian Presidency and for participating in Copa’s 2010 Congress for European Farmers earlier this year. We also look forward to working with the Hungarian Minister in the New Year  who attended the meeting.

For more information, please contact:

Pekka Pesonen                                                                              Amanda Cheesley
Secretary-General                                                                         Press Officer
Copa¬-Cogeca                                                                                   Copa-Cogeca
WWW.copa-cogeca.eu