In a meeting in Luxembourg with a delegation of the Dutch presidency, Cogeca president Thomas Magnusson said the agricultural sector, including livestock producers, had been hit hard by four factors: an overall economic downturn, soaring input costs, low and stagnating prices, as well as the Russian ban on food imports such as pork.
He said farmers and livestock producers were suffering from “severe liquidity problems” and noted that the UK’s vote in favour of leaving the EU added further uncertainty to an under-pressure sector.
Magnusson said it was “crucial to avoid any further disruptions to the market”. He called on European food ministers to agree on a new package of aid measures to the support the sector and suggested that additional funds could be found without dipping into the European Commission’s crisis reserve fund.
He maintained export credits could be used to give traders more confidence when they exported products across Europe and further afield.
Copa-Cogeca said it welcomed calls from EU ministers for a new package of measures, but said these measures should have additional finance attached to them.
Separately, Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen also expressed his disappointment in some EU organic rule changes being postponed until Slovakia takes control of the EU council presidency on 1 July.
“We believe that many improvements have been made to the text compared to the EU Commission’s initial proposals like keeping mixed farms in it, as this gives farmers an incentive to convert gradually, but we want the new rules to be introduced quickly so that producers have clarity on them,” said Pesonen.
“They [farmers] cannot afford a long period without political and legal guidance because of all the uncertainties for their businesses and investments.”
Copa-Cogeca on Brexit
Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen commented: “A key point for us will be to avoid any further disruption to the European agriculture market, given the importance of the economic ties across the Channel and the current agricultural market crisis. It’s crucial to maintain market stability. Over half of UK food and drink exports currently go to the EU and the UK market is also a big export market for food and drink exports from other member states, providing European consumers with a good, diverse choice of quality produce. We will work hard to ensure that the farming community in the EU or the UK are not the ones to pay the price for international politics and the impact on trade is minimised. The leave negotiations are expected to be concluded within two years as defined in the Lisbon Treaty.”