EU farmers say aid package is move in the right direction

FEFAC tells Commission to stop undermining EU feed and livestock competitiveness

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© istock.com/pavalena
© istock.com/pavalena

Related tags: Eu feed manufacturers, European union, Eu

FEFAC has called on policymakers to eliminate legislative obstacles as well as to tackle administrative burdens in the field of EU feed production. 

Such actions, it said, would strengthen the competitiveness of the European livestock sector by safeguarding unrestricted access to feed as the key input for livestock farming.

The trade group's call followed the package measures announced by the EU Commission yesterday to aid livestock producers facing the knock-on effects from the Russian ban on EU imports.

Ruud Tijssens, president of the EU Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC), said: "The Commission needs to put an end to legislative developments which undermine the competitiveness of European feed manufacturers and livestock producers. The GMO ‘opt-out’ proposal for food and feed imports is the prime example of recent legislative action that jeopardizes livestock farmers’ access to competitive feed supplies.”

While the GMO proposal is certainly the most concrete item on the table, the trade group told us there is a also need to increase the attractiveness of EU protein production, both for existing oilseed meals and alternative protein sources such as algae, microbial protein and insects.

FEFAC also repeated its call to extend the mandate of the DG AGRI task force on agricultural markets​ to investigate all EU regulatory measures contributing to higher feed costs.

EU livestock production accounts for around 475m tons of feed a year, of which about 30% is produced by compound feed manufacturers. Turnover of that feed sector in 2013 was estimated at €55bn.

EU aid package

The Commission intervention package yesterday includes measures such as:  

  • Finding new markets
  • Reinforcement of promotion measures and use of export credit insurance
  • Adaptation of tools to manage key commodity markets: doubling of the ceilings for skimmed milk powder (SMP) and butter and reactivation of pork private storage aid
  • Loan/debt relief for investments, state aid, and adjustment of the ceiling for de minimis aid
  • Voluntary measures to give farmers and their cooperatives instruments to organize their production within a sector
  • Extension of EU milk market observatory to other sectors other than dairy

"This is a package of measures which can have a material and positive impact on European agricultural markets and it should now be given the chance to succeed,"​ said EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, in announcing the aid. His full speech can be read here​.

Farmers want Russian market reopened 

Reacting to the EU aid package, EU farm lobby, Copa and Cogeca, said it is a move forward in terms of alleviating market pressures but it wants to see how it will work in practice.

Copa president, Martin Merrild, said: “Many farmers across Europe are facing the worst crisis since the early 1980s. The EU dairy and pig meat sectors are bleeding. They were hit by the loss of our main export market Russia - worth €5.1bn. The Russian market must be reopened as soon as possible.

“This package agreed today has the potential to help improve the crisis, especially some of the market management measures, use of export credit insurance and additional financial instruments. It is also good the EU milk market observatory has been extended to sectors other than dairy. But I urge ministers to step up payments of the €500m package released by the EU last September as only part of the aid has been paid out,”​ he added.

Cogeca president, Thomas Magnusson, welcomed the fact the Commission has prioritized its engagement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) in order to develop the right financial instruments to help farmers invest in their businesses and improve competitiveness.

However, Copa and Cogeca said they were disappointed there was no temporary increase in the EU intervention price for skimmed milk powder (SMP) and butter “to reflect the soaring production costs and market realities.”​ 

The UK's National Farmers' Union (NFU) said the measures were a step in the right direction but that more needed to be done to address the specific problems related to farming in those markets.

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