EU agricultural market situation still critical, ministers told

Copa and Cogeca Presidents warned EU Farm Ministers today of the downward pressure on EU agriculture markets partly due to the impact of the Russian export ban, and urged the EU Commission to introduce measures already in December to alleviate pressure on the EU pigmeat market and also the dairy sector.

The move came as the aid package of 500 million euros was being discussed by Ministers.

In a high-level meeting with the Luxembourg Presidency, Copa President Martin Merrild said “There is strong downward pressure on the EU pigmeat sector partly as a result of the Russian export ban and due to a lack of short term measures to tackle the difficult market situation. The aid package is not sufficient to deal with problems on the pigmeat market. The average EU price for pigmeat has been falling for over 8 consecutive weeks by 6-10%. We therefore urge the EU Commission to introduce private storage aid for pigmeat, as agreed in the aid package, already in December to help alleviate the situation. If no action is taken, many producers will be forced out of business. We also regret the lack of progress in the negotiations with the Russian authorities to open the Russian market for fat and by-products”.

“In addition, we are very concerned about the situation prevailing in the EU dairy sector. With Winter coming up, the cash problem is getting worse and producers are under pressure. The aid package was a step in the right direction to help improve the situation and we need to ensure that member states make full use of the measures available to them like the ability to advance farmers direct payments. We also still urge for a reflection on the value of the EU safety net price level in these very difficult times”, he added.

Cogeca President Christian Pees went on to underline the importance of the CAP simplification exercise launched by EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan. “Red tape stifles innovation, competitiveness and the quality of life. For example, in a Danish survey, 70% of farmers said bureaucracy and controls are the worst thing about being a farmer”, Mr Merrild warned. “Copa and Cogeca have consequently presented the EU Commission with a comprehensive list of proposals to simplify the new CAP including on the greening measures, the 3 crop rule, the definition of permanent and temporary grassland, voluntary coupled support amongst others. This is crucial to cut red tape and enable farmers to get on with managing their business”, Mr Pees said.

Mr Pees also urged Ministers to remain vigilant in the international trade talks. Mr Pees regretted the increased duties imposed by the U.S. administration on EU butter exports, saying it shows a lack of commitment from the American negotiators to clinch a free trade deal with the EU (TTIP) soon. He went on to underline the benefits of a comprehensive trade deal in the Doha Round of World trade liberalizing talks and regretted that results from the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi will be disappointing. He urged the Presidency to do more on limiting the export activities of state-owned enterprises used in Canada and Australia at the Ministerial Conference.

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