Copa-Cogeca underlines huge potential of EU agriculture, agri-food sectors to boost growth and jobs

Copa-Cogeca underlined the huge importance of the EU agri-food sector for EU rural areas, growth, jobs and food security at a Conference in Dublin today, and outlined key areas where investment needs to be stepped up to enable the sector to meet its potential.

The Conference “Financial Instruments under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)” looked at how the EAFRD can be used to fund financial instruments such as loans to achieve the objectives of EU rural development policy. It was also designed to raise awareness of the programmes on offer. Speakers included EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan as well as Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Chairman of European Parliament Agriculture Committee Mr Siekierski and Vice-President of the EIB Wilhelm Molterer.

Speaking at the event, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said “The EU agriculture and agri-food sectors account for 40 million jobs and therefore play a crucial role in helping the EU to achieve the objectives of the 2020 Strategy and to maintain growth in EU rural areas”.

“With food demand set to rise by 60% by 2050, it’s vital to step up investment in the sector so the sector can meet its potential. Figures released only recently by the EU Commission show that EU agriculture production has the potential to rise by 2024 by 15 mt in the grain sector, 1 mt in the poultry and pigmeat sectors and 12 mt for milk and we need to make this happen. Moreover, EU agri-food products make up 30% of the EU total trade balance, representing a surplus of 18 billion euros annually”.

“But not enough young people are entering the industry. Returns on investments can also take 15 years to emerge. We need to see how to deal with this. I would therefore like to outline today some of the investment needs we have pinpointed for Europes agriculture and agri-food industry. These investments need to ensure that the sector remains sustainable at the same time as enhancing our competitiveness on the world market. There also needs to be good dialogue and cooperation between the public and private sectors. For example in the EU grain sector, investments need to be made to improve the transport and storage capacity for grain in the EU. This would maximize trade and ensure EU livestock producers have better access to feed. This type of investment would also help support the accomplishment of the Single Market in the Eastern and Landlocked countries.The Danish pigmeat sector has also suffered a loss of competitiveness recently due to high production costs and investment measures could help here”, he explained.

He continued “Financial instruments, co-funded by EAFRD, is one solution that could help member states and regions to invest to help businesses grow and develop. But it’s important that the beneficiaries have a clear picture of what is available and that red tape is minimized. The tools also need to be adapted to local conditions”.

“Europe must act now to provide solutions to develop a coherent investment policy to aid Europes economic recovery and prosperity”, he concluded.

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