EUROPEAN farmers and co-ops have urged policymakers in Brussels to ensure that there is a competitive agri-food sector and a strong Common Agricultural Policy after 2013, to prevent a complete collapse of the market.
Padraig Walshe and Paolo Bruni, the respective presidents of Copa and Cogeca, made the call at an informal Council of Agricultural Ministers meeting.
They reminded ministers that farming is first and foremost an economic sector that underpins the largest manufacturing industry in Europe.
Mr Walshe said he had heard rumours that the European Commission is thinking about a significant shaping of pillar one (direct supports) under the CAP in order to bring a much greater environmental focus into the policy.
“This is not acceptable and could seriously harm the economic performance and competitiveness of farming in the EU,” he said.
Mr Walshe said that the Commission has also re-launched trade liberalising talks with the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur that would have a devastating impact on the EU agriculture sector.
“To maintain food security and employment for over 28 million jobs in EU rural areas, a strong CAP, which preserves the economic role of farmers in producing food, is crucial.”
Cogeca president Paolo Bruni, meanwhile, stressed that the second pillar of the CAP should be the instrument to deliver additionality, providing targeted services and agri-environment measures.
“The food chain currently does not work properly.
“The existing lack of transparency and the problems with late payments, market abuses and distortions of competition in the food supply chain cannot be accepted.
“I want to see better prices for farmers and agri co-operatives.
“European competition rules must be adjusted to enable co-operatives and producer organisations to grow in size and scale, giving them more power in the food supply chain,” he said.
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