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Farm Ministers Look at Strengthening Agricultural Markets

17 July 2012, at 10:13am

EU - Copa-Cogeca has welcomed EU Farm Ministers talks on the future CAP and called for stronger more efficient measures to better manage the market and help farmers deal with the increasing market volatility.

Copa President Gerd Sonnleitner warned in a meeting with new President-in-Office Mr Sofoclis Aletrasis, Cypriot Farm Minister that the level of current safety nets has not changed for over a decade.

"Farmers are being confronted with increasing challenges and are being squeezed by high production costs. It is crucial that market management measures enable producers to cope during periods of low market prices and/or rapid increases in costs. Copa-Cogeca calls for safety nets and measures to manage the market to be reinforced and updated. This has also been demanded by many EU Farm Ministers. For example, the EU intervention price for butter and skimmed milk powder and the reference price for activating private storage aid for olive oil must be updated to take account of the higher production costs farmers face."

He continued: “EU markets are also becoming increasingly linked to the world market rather than to the period of EU production. That is why Copa-Cogeca is calling for the intervention period for milk to be extended all year round and for private storage aid to be extended to products like cheese, hemp, hops, dried fodder. In the wine sector, planting rights must be kept to ensure a balanced wine market. This has been supported already by 15 Member States and MEPs.”

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen went on to highlight the benefits of a wide and effective range of voluntary risk management tools which are at farmers’ disposal, such as insurance and mutual funds.

“They will help farmers to better manage the increasing market volatility and protect them against risks such as animal and plant disease outbreaks, as well as weather extremes."

Copa-Cogeca welcomes the repositioning of such tools under the Commission proposals on Rural Development Policy under the CAP which will give member states a certain amount of flexibility in implementing the measures. But Copa-Cogeca is disappointed that existing tools have not been strengthened, and that a series of practical problems concerning implementation have not been yet solved.

Copa-Cogeca welcomes the work carried so far by the Council and calls on the Cypriot Presidency to continue working on the revision of the existing criteria to facilitate on-farm assessment of production losses, broaden the scope of the new income stabilisation tools to include also insurance contracts in addition to mutual funds, allow a national framework with a single budgetary allocation on risk management tools, and finally, to reinforce the collective approach by groups of farmers when it comes to risk management tools. Such measures must remain voluntary at member state level and by individual farmers.

"It is also vital to reinforce producer organisations (POs), like cooperatives, position in the food chain to meet the increasing world food demand and to enable farmers to get a better return from the markets. With the reform of the EU fruit and vegetable and EU dairy regimes, the role of producer organisations was improved. This must be done in other sectors and give them sufficient flexibility to respond to the specificity of each sector," he said.