How will the EU boost resilience in domestic feed proteins?

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Tetiana Strilchuk
© GettyImages/Tetiana Strilchuk

Related tags Protein autonomy Common agricultural policy

Enhancing the EU's strength in protein supply for feed and food stands is a critical priority for the region, according to a gathering of EU ministers for agriculture and the EU Commission in Limburg, Belgium.

This week’s informal meeting, run 7-9 April, focused on advancing strategic autonomy in protein production. Discussions highlighted the need to enhance sustainability, and fortify the role of livestock within a circular economy framework.

Acknowledging the uncertainties and geopolitical tensions, participants also emphasized the urgency of reducing reliance on external protein sources.

EU agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, stressed the necessity of incentivizing domestic protein production, proposing a strategic approach within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at a post-meeting press conference.

Key to bolstering protein crop cultivation, he said, are instruments such as coupled support, and eco-schemes as well as revisiting direct payment distribution.

Also addressing the challenges, David Clarinval, Belgium's vice-prime minister, acknowledged the profitability gap between protein and grain crops for EU farmers.

"Europe is too dependent on imported protein such as soy. It is a crucial matter concerning competitiveness on an economic and environmental level that requires innovation and in which the EU needs to move forward."


Preliminary conclusions from the event emphasized the need to ensure strategic autonomy by diversifying protein sources, promoting European production, and maximizing value from by-products.

Cross-sectoral collaboration and innovation were highlighted as pivotal for sectoral development, alongside coupled aid to stimulate vegetable protein cultivation.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for DG Agri told FeedNavigator the publication of EU's protein plan, originally due to be published in Q2 2024, is still expected this year. "Work on the report is ongoing."

Farmer concerns

Belgium has been prioritizing agricultural autonomy during its presidency of the Council of the EU.

Recognizing farmers' concerns and recent Europe wide protests, the lawmakers organized another meeting with farmer organizations for Tuesday morning, with that looking to address the needs of producers and align them with the discussions at the ministerial level.

Today, more than ever, we need to talk about how to ensure the strategic position of our agriculture and to give our farmers the right tools to keep their strategic position.

Jo Brouns, Flemish minister for agriculture.

statement from Belgian ministers​ reiterated the commitment to competitiveness, sustainability, and nutritional quality in farming practices, urging innovation to overcome agricultural challenges, particularly in light of recent geopolitical conflicts.

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