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European group seeks to put family farm back in spotlight

Family farming is the backbone of rural economies, according to Copa-Cogeca.

Pekka Pesonen, secretary general of the European umbrella body for farmers and co-ops, said family farms have served society for thousands of years.

They are a key driver for growth and jobs in EU rural areas as well as providing quality food supplies for over 500 million consumers.

"That is why we want to ensure that they play a key role in the future. If we lose them, we lose whole rural communities," he said.

Mr Pesonen was speaking after the launch of a public consultation by the European Commission on the role of family farming.

"With farmers’ incomes half the average level of earnings in other sectors, it is crucial to give them a competitive future and a quality of life comparable to other sectors. They are also subject to severe weather conditions and market turbulence," he said.

Mr Pesonen said in the wake of the United Nations 2014 year of International Family Farms, ways of improving their situation will consequently be looked at in upcoming events.

Copa-Cogeca is planning to co-organise with the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Farmers Organisation (WFO) an event highlighting the importance of family farms. It will also take part in the European Commission conference, and in the latest public consultation.

Meanwhile, Copa-Cogeca has also offered its sincere condolences today to the family of former FNSEA and Copa president Jean Michel Lemétayer who has died of a heart attack. He played a crucial role in the EU farm sector, especially in the world trade liberalising talks, as well as in the CAP negotiations. He will be sorely missed, said Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen.

Mr Lemétayer was a former President of the French Farmers Federation FNSEA (2001-2010) and was president of Copa over the period 2007-2009. He played a vital role in the last round of WTO talks and also on the CAP. He made a valuable contribution to the future of European Agriculture.

"I am deeply sorry at the passing of Mr Lemétayer, who died at 62 years of age. We very much appreciate his work in the farm sector; I hope we have learned from him," Mr Pesonen said.