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50 years later, EU Common Agricultural Policy still debated

Copa, the largest EU farm group, and Cogeca, which represents European farm co-ops, recognized the 50th anniversary of the Common Agricultural Policy today by saying it needs to address price volatility and the relationship between producers and supermarkets.

The CAP is the European Union’s “only truly common policy and has made an important and successful contribution to the construction of Europe, to stabilizing EU agricultural commodity markets, ensuring food security and to maintaining employment for 40 million people mostly in the rural areas of the EU,” Copa and Cogeca said in a joint news release.

Gerd Sonnleitner

Gerd Sonnleitner
“Farmers’ returns from the market are plummeting because we are opening up our markets to imports which do not have to meet the EUs’ high standards and because farmers are up against the huge buying power of a few supermarkets,” said Copa President Gerd Sonnleitner.

“Farmers’ incomes are only half that of average earnings,” he said. “In view of this as well as increasing market volatility, scarce resources and growing world food demand, the upcoming CAP reform must be used to reinforce the economic role of farmers in providing food to ensure we have a dynamic, innovative and profitable CAP in the future and a flourishing agri-food sector.”

Paolo Bruni

Paolo Bruni
Cogeca President Paolo Bruni stressed the need for better prices for EU farmers and their cooperatives.

“It is crucial to strengthen in the reform producer organizations’, such as cooperatives’, position in the food chain to meet the growing world food demand and ensure a competitive EU agri-food sector,” Bruni said. “Competition rules also need to be adjusted to enable cooperatives to grow in size and scale, increasing their competitivity and contributing to a rebalanced food chain.”

In a separate news release, Copa and Cogeca said that, in the wake of market volatility, EU wine planting rights and sugar production quotas must be prolonged and that the European Commission’s dairy provisions need to be updated to take the higher cost of production into account.

Meanwhile, a spokesman said that the European Commission will resist calls by France, the European Union’s largest agricultural producer, to scale back environmental measures included in a CAP reform proposal, Bloomberg reported Friday.

Last week, French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said that setting aside 7 percent of land for environmental purposes is “too much” and in conflict with the need to produce more food, that 30 percent of national farm budgets for environmental measures is excessive, and that crop-diversity plans are incompatible with crops such as corn, Bloomberg reported.