With farmers protesting across Europe hit by the drastic situation on EU agricultural markets, Copa and Cogeca has published a package of measures to help solve the crisis and urged the EU to act.
Speaking at a press conference, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen warned: “The situation is worsening every day, with farmers and agri-cooperatives facing severe cash flow problems and many being forced out of business.
“They have been hit hard after we lost our main export market – Russia - worth 5.1 billion euros overnight as a result of international politics.
“Input prices are soaring especially fertilizer costs and the collapse in oil prices has put down pressure on commodity prices without affecting fertilizer costs.
“The situation is untenable. The 500 million euros package released by the EU last September was nowhere near enough to deal with the bad situation and to make it worse only 25% of the aid has been paid out.
“Unless the EU acts now, it will reach unprecedented levels putting a severe strain on the economies of rural areas and leaving the EU unable to feed a growing population in the future.
“On the same day as member states submit their list of proposed measures to the EU Commission for discussion in March, Copa and Cogeca have published a package of measures that we have submitted to the EU Commission to improve the drastic situation”, he insisted.
Outlining key measures, he said: “We need to re-open the Russian market, speed up trade negotiations with Japan, reinforce promotion measures and use export credit insurance.
“We also need to step up measures to better manage the market including a temporary increase in the milk intervention price and extension of private storage aid (PSA) for pork and dairy products.
“Market tools for the fruit and vegetables sector must be reviewed. Unfair practices along the food chain so that farmers get a better return for their produce need to be combatted so they are not squeezed unfairly by retailers.
“The cost of inputs can be cut by lifting import duties, especially for fertilisers and we need more loan/debt relief for investments from European Investment Bank, state aid, and adjustment of the ceiling for de minimis aid.
“Member States also need to make full use of tools under EU rural development policy and national schemes to help farmers better manage risk.”