Copa-Cogeca urges EU Farm Ministers to take action in the EU dairy sector

EU Farm Ministers must agree on urgent measures to be taken in the EU dairy sector, so that EU producers can meet increasing demand for dairy products worldwide, forecast to rise 2.3% annually, Copa-Cogeca told Ministers today. Another breakdown in talks is not an option, Copa President Albert Jan Maat warned.

In a meeting with the Italian Presidency, Mr Maat said that “farmers and their cooperatives must not be penalised for meeting growing global demand for this nutritious product. Stocks are low and in order to take advantage of the market opportunities, we must alleviate pressure on producers. We want to ensure that measures are agreed which ease the huge burden on milk producers who are urgently trying to recover their cash flow and avoid going out of business. Money from the milk superlevy needs to be kept in the sector. We were alarmed that Ministers failed to decide last month and urge them to take action today, to the benefit of both producers and consumers. Farmers should not suffer from this. In the longer term, we need to discuss further how to deal with the increased price volatility on dairy markets in a market-orientated way, and complementary to the milk package provisions. Producers need a clear signal from Ministers today”.

Mr Maat went on to highlight the need for a level playing field when it comes to implementation at national level of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The common nature of the CAP must be respected as far as possible, simplification ensured and red tape minimized, as it stifles innovation, Mr Maat insisted. A workable reform is essential.

He also highlighted the leading role European farmers and agri-cooperatives are playing on the environmental front, but urged the EU Commission to pay special attention to the way it acts vis a vis the EU Nitrates Directives. He warned that too many rules are being fixed at Brussels level, and its far more effective and sustainable to determine this at local level. For European farmers and cooperatives, its only valuable if there are clear goals and not only a list of measures that must be accepted by the European institutions.

He went on to outline key ways to achieve the goals set out in the EU forest strategy, stressing that rural development programmes must include forestry-related measures, and these must be promoted, in order to ensure a higher uptake of available funds.Negotiations must also be resumed to reach a consensus on a legally binding agreement (LBA) on forests in Europe. Together with the EU Forest Strategy, the LBA would represent a key tool for strengthening the forest sector as a whole.

Wrapping up, Mr Maat highlighted the need for a flexible authorization scheme for vine plantings which also protects the production potential. He urged the Commission to take all necessary measures to guarantee a smooth transition from the planting rights system for vines to the new system of authorisations for vine plantings. Member States should be able to allow producers to transfer the planting rights that they hold between January 1 2016 and 31 December 2020, he said.

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