This move, announced by the EC last Friday as part of a range of short-term and medium-term actions to enhance global food security and to support farmers and consumers in the EU, is aimed at alleviating ongoing pressure on the feed market.
In March this year, EU stakeholder associations indicated a risk of a supply shortfall in feed grains due to reduced trade with Ukraine as a direct result of the Russian invasion, prompting the EC to signal to member states that they could apply greater flexibility, on a temporary basis, in terms of the setting of Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for pesticides on feed commodity imports.
Spain requested this temporary derogation to allow it to import corn from alternative markets, such as Argentina.
The measures the Commission implemented then, which were supported by data on MRL setting from EFSA and based on Article 18(4) of Regulation (EC) 396/2005, were initially meant to be in place for period of six months only, meaning they would have expired around mid-September if they had not been renewed.
Last Friday saw the Commission also announce an “exceptional and temporary derogation” to allow the production of any crops for food and feed purposes on fallow land, while maintaining the full level of the greening payment for farmers. “This will enlarge the EU's production capacity in spite of the limited availability of fertile land.”
The EU Executive proposed a new, self-standing temporary crisis framework as well. That initiative is to cover farmers, fertilizer producers and the fisheries sector, to enable the provision of state aid to farmers affected by significant increases in input costs. “Fertilizer prices and supplies for farmers will be monitored to ensure that the prospects for EU harvests are not jeopardized.”
In addition, member states are advised to communicate data on private stocks of essential commodities for food and feed, on a monthly basis, to ensure “a timely and accurate overview of their availability.”
Reducing dependence on feed imports
Food sustainability is an integral part of food security - the surge in global commodity prices, the ongoing Black Sea conflict, highlights again the need for EU agriculture and food supply chains to remain resilient, said the Commission.
“Enhancing resilience, by reducing the dependency of European agriculture on energy, energy intensive imports and feed imports is more than ever a necessity."
It called on countries in the EU-27 to use all the available instruments in their CAP strategic plans for the period 2023-2027 to ensure that resilience, from the use of risk management tools to the development of precision farming or coupled support to boost protein crops.