Talks on future of agriculture and food industries in Athens

A vision for unlocking the potential of the agriculture and food industries in the European Union will be outlined in Athens today, ahead of an informal Council of Ministers meeting.

Eleven associations representing the agriculture and food chain across Europe will launch the document.

EU farmers, the European food and drink sector, and agricultural input industries as well as the agricultural trade, say they are united in a call for a more streamlined policy agenda. They want to place the promotion of innovation at its very core in order to sustain safe, high-quality and affordable food production and choice for consumers.

The document is expected to call on the next European Parliament and Commission and the European Council to work together at fostering innovation in the agri-food sector. It will seek better and smarter policy making in an enhanced common market, in order to create a more sustainable sector, delivering jobs, productivity and resource-efficiency. The need for innovation and a balanced, science-based approach to regulation was highlighted by Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella body for European farmers and co-ops, at a recent European Crop Association conference.

Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said a strong EU agriculture sector is vital for growth and jobs, economy and society. “We urge EU decision-makers to maximise the huge potential of the European agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries sectors.

“They form the backbone of EU rural areas and are key for creating new business opportunities.

“These sectors have played a positive role in helping member states to overcome the current economic crisis and also make a serious contribution to combating climate change and diversifying energy supply,” he said.

Mr Pesonen said Copa-Cogeca urges candidates in the European elections to campaign for the maintenance of an agriculture sector that is sustainable, competitive and resource efficient.

“To achieve this, investment in the sector must be stepped up significantly, and research and innovation encouraged.

“The food chain also needs to work better to enable farmers to get a better return from the market.

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