The farming supply chain could be set for a shake-up. A report from the EU’s Agri Markets Task Force has concluded laws helping farmers manage volatility and low prices “can and should be further improved”.
Policy proposals come after the EU faced pressure from farming group Copa-Cogeca to crack down on what the body warned was an imbalance of power in Europe’s food supply chain.
Alongside calls for new rules to cover unfair trading practices, the recommendations include improving market transparency and implementing an enforcement regime through the use of an independent adjudicator.
Fair return issues
“In view of recent difficulties in some specific sectors, we identified the need to strengthen the role of the farmer in the food chain with the objective of ensuring that he [or] she gets a fair return for their produce,” said EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan.
The proposals come amid growing concern farmers are “bearing the brunt” of price volatility, according to the EU.
Copa-Cogeca’s secretary-general Pekka Pesonen welcomed the report, but raised concerns that the recommendations were not tough enough.
“For us, an EU framework law is vital to curb unfair trading practices – something we have long been calling for – so that operators are sanctioned when they break EU law,” he said. “An independent third party ombudsman must impose sanctions whenever there is non-compliance.
“Farmers need enough tools to manage the different risks they face – be they weather events, pests and diseases or market volatility. Under EU Rural Development Policy – the second Pillar of the CAP – insurance and mutual funds should aim to stabilise the economic viability of the farm without distorting trade and competition between farmers from different member states. In addition, risk management schemes should remain flexible and co-exist alongside state aid and existing national risk management systems.”