Copa & Cogeca welcomed adoption today of a 2016 European Rural Development Declaration in Cork & underlined the importance of farmers and forest owners and their cooperatives in achieving its goals with the right support and investments in place.
In an initial reaction, Copa & Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said “We very much welcome this ten point plan agreed by stakeholders and policy makers today to ensure a sustainable and economically viable future for our rural areas. It reflects the new challenges that we face in the 21st century – ranging from extreme weather events, price volatility to producing more using less resources – and its success will depend on farmers & foresters getting the right support and investment”.
“In particular, we welcome the fact that policy makers recognize the huge potential the EU agriculture and forestry sector have in boosting the economies of rural areas and helping to tackle key challenges facing society like climate change, food security, resource management. To achieve this, the Declaration underlines the need for fair and transparent relations in the food chain so that farmers can get a better return from the market. This is welcome news. They also need effective tools to help them better manage the increasing risks they face”, Sofia Bjornsson, Chairwoman of Copa and Cogeca working party on rural development said.
The Declaration also underpins the need for investment in infrastructures and business in rural areas. Investment is vital in helping farmers to improve their economic and environmental performance, to support the modernisation of farms, ensure generation renewal and to help the farming sector in implementing smart technologies that contribute to an efficient use of resources.. “We need to overcome the digital divide and exploit the potential offered to rural areas by digitalisation so that farmers can use the latest technologies. Financial instruments that are flexible and adapted to the challenges facing farmers are vital to enhance sustainable investment in rural areas”, Bjornsson added.
“Another positive element in the Declaration is that policy must be simplified and red tape cut.This is key. Advisory and training services and rural networks activities need to be provided in our upcoming policy to enable farmers to deal with the new challenges . The Declaration also underlines the need for the right investments schemes in place to promote renewable energy and highlights the key role agriculture and forestry make to fighting climate change, especially through carbon sequestration. They make a big contribution to a low carbon and bio-based economy and it is good that this has finally been recognized”, Pesonen concluded.
Around 30 experts from Copa & Cogeca member organisations took part in this major event to set out the blue print for rural areas in the future. For details of the Declaration, please see http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/events/2016/rural-development/cork-declaration-2-0_en.pdf