Copa-Cogeca calls ministers’ discussion a step in the right direction

Copa-Cogeca welcomed today as a step in the right direction EU Farm Ministers strong support to not cut EU agriculture expenditure next year. They called for every effort to be made to ensure that sufficient funds are made available in the 2015 EU budget to aid farmers and agri-cooperatives hit severely by the Russian ban on EU farm exports.

After a meeting with the Italian Presidency, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen stressed “I am pleased that EU Farm Ministers oppose the EU Commission proposal to cut support in the EU agriculture sector in the 2015 budget in this difficult time. Prices have plummeted by up to 50% in some sectors. It is totally unacceptable that the Commission proposed to cut spending in 2015 when no support has even yet been allocated to the EU pigmeat sector and when the Russian market has been closed since January”.

“We strongly support the Presidencys’ intention to send a letter to EU EcoFin Minsters calling for support not to be cut so that farmers will not have to pay twice for this ban. Copa-Cogeca also supports Commissioner Hogans’ aim to introduce measures to support the sector providing sufficient funding is available. We urge the College of Commissioners next Wednesday to ensure funds are provided”, he added. The move comes as the issue is being debated by the Commission, Parliament and Council in the conciliation committee.

In an Action Plan sent to Commissioner Hogan, Copa-Cogeca outlined detailed measures needed to alleviate pressure on producers and to prevent a full blown market crisis from emerging. In particular, in some EU regions, milk prices are 30-40% down since the start of the year. Copa-Cogeca regrets that the EU Commission suspended the temporary private storage aid scheme for cheese. It should still be open for countries severely affected by the ban and improved. Countries like Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland are still facing major difficulties due to the Russian ban. The milk intervention price must also be updated urgently to take account of rising production costs.

For pigmeat, an EU plan needs to be developed with support to find new market outlets for EU produce and to encourage the removal of phytosanitary and sanitary barriers and other unnecessary obstacles to trade. Promotion campaigns for pig meat must be set up. Funds should also be provided to co-finance schemes for the generic promotion of pigmeat on the internal EU market. High quantities of low-value products that are currently in storage like pig fat and offal should be removed in order to free up storage capacity and emergency measures developed. Whilst the Commission refuses to act, we are losing 750, 000 t of exports in the Russian market whilst the EU and US are gaining them and still exporting to Russia. Storage schemes could be used as a temporary stop gap measure until new markets are found in non-EU countries.

In the fruit and vegetables sector, Copa-Cogeca calls for aid to be provided next January for a new targeted scheme to withdraw products from the market to distribute freely to for example charities, non-food uses, green harvesting, to prevent the market from collapsing altogether as the season will be at its peak and production volumes higher. Application of article 222 of the CAP is also necessary to enable producer organisations like agri-cooperatives to react quickly.

In addition, Copa-Cogeca urges the Commission to introduce measures rapidly to help support the EU beef market including export support. The Commission must pursue a vigorous export promotion campaign and give its support to finding new market outlets. Phytosanitary and sanitary barriers and unnecessary obstacles to trade in this sector must also be lifted, especially in the emerging economies and developed countries.

Copa-Cogeca also believes that there is an urgent need to attract young people into farming and highlights the need to develop tailor-made solutions in the 2nd pillar of the CAP to help young farmers set up and ease problems related to access to credit and to land. Finally, Copa-Cogeca supports the concerns made in a declaration by Ministers from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia and believes that the changes tabled by the EU Commission could lead to a drop in EU organic production which is unacceptable. This must be revised.

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