EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, launched a public consultation on the development of a potential European protein plan at the start of this week.
The EU executive said European production of protein crops is not sufficient to cover demand, due in part to the agro-climatic conditions in Europe; soybeans can also enter the EU market tariff-free, which in turn reduces the cost-effectiveness of local production.
“A significant proportion of soybean crops grown outside the EU are genetically modified, but with European demand for non-GM food and feed remaining high, there is a growing need to stimulate local production.”
In order for the Commission to prepare a report evaluating all aspects of regional protein crop production and measures to stimulate such cultivation, it said it wants to garner he views of industry stakeholders and farmers on the topic through an online survey.
The EU officials said they are keen to assess the effectiveness of approaches such as policy instruments like voluntary coupled support - linking farmers’ direct support to production of protein crops in order to stimulate the sector.
The Commission is planning a series of thematic workshops to further debate actions needed to support EU plant protein production; those meetings would look at issues around research and innovation, environmental benefits or supply chain issues.
EU trade group urges research into local protein yields and quality
EU feed trade group, FEFAC, welcomed the move, while highlighting the need for consistency across different EU policies that directly and indirectly affect the EU protein supply, including the CAP ‘post 2020’ framework, the current review of the EU policy on renewable energies (RED II), the Circular Economy package and EU Resource Efficiency agenda 2030.
It said there is a need to focus on the competitiveness of homegrown plant protein sources in the market study.
The trade group said additional research efforts are needed to raise both yields and protein quality of EU plant protein sources such as their amino-acid profile and anti-nutritional factors.
“European research programs are crucial to increase the efficiency of protein production and consumption by farm animals.”
It stressed, though, that stakeholders need to set realistic targets for EU plant protein production as the EU will not become self-sufficient for its needs in protein rich feed materials on the short or medium-term.
FEFAC will be presenting on the implications of biofuel policy revisions for Europe’s protein supply at FeedNavigator’s first ever face-to-face event in Amsterdam early next month, Feed Protein Vision.
On the same stage will be Agrifirm’s director of corporate affairs, Ruud Tijssens. He will discuss whether European self-sufficiency in protein feeds is possible.
Wendy Rauw, research scientist with Spain’s INIA, will also talk at our event. She is presenting on an EU-funded project looking at sustainable European pig production based on optimizing local feed resources and feedstuff coproducts such as DDGS, rapeseed, legumes, and acorns.
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